The commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. David G. Perkins, challenged military, industry and academic leaders attending the Mad Scientist Conference at Georgetown University here to think differently about the future.

The conference began Aug. 8 and ends today.

“There’s a preoccupation with trying to predict the future,” Perkins said. He challenged the attendees to describe the future — not predict it.

“That sounds like a nuance, but actually it’s a significant nuance,” Perkins said. He added that “describe” requires having a well-rounded understanding of the environment. It means understanding the changing variables and not ‘hardwiring’ a solution.

Future Strategic Security Environment

The task these ‘mad scientists’ are asked to perform is describe the strategic security environment in 2050. The Mad Scientist initiative is co-sponsored by the chief of staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, TRADOC, and the Georgetown University Center for Security Studies. It’s an ongoing initiative of TRADOC’s intelligence section and this is the second year that a group has met in Georgetown.

Speakers this week include Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, along with the director of the Australian War Research Center and representatives from universities across the country.

Perkins told the group that he’s not looking for innovative ideas; what he wants is innovation — turning critical thinking “into valued outcome.”