Are We Really Winning the Information Revolution?

Grand Ballroom (NY Hilton)
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 7 ratings)

Samantha Ravich, former National Security Advisor to Vice President Richard Cheney, will discuss the challenges that face strategic decision makers from the wealth of data now provided by advances in technology.

Photo of Samantha Ravich

Samantha Ravich

National Commission for the Review of R&D Programs in the Intelligence Community

Dr. Samantha Ravich consults with both private industry and Federal and State governments on international security, financial, and political risk. She is also a Senior Advisor to The Chertoff Group and Co-Chairs the National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs in the IC. From 2009-2011, Ravich was Senior Vice President at IPS, a software and analysis firm.

Ravich was Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney and served in the White House for 5½ years during the 2001-2008 time period. Ravich was the Vice President’s representative on Asian and Middle East Affairs as well as on Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Proliferation. During her tenure in OVP, she also worked on Free Market and Democracy Promotion, spearheading a number of government wide initiatives.

During a hiatus from the White House, Ravich served for two years as the VP of the think tank The Long Term Strategy Project, based in Cambridge, MA, that was established to assess security threats and opportunities facing the United States over the next two decades. From 1999-2001, Dr. Ravich was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC where she worked for Senator Sam Nunn in his development of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. From 1996-1999, Ravich managed the Asian and Middle East International Security portfolio for the Smith Richardson Foundation. She began her career as a financial analyst for KOAR, a Los Angeles based real estate investment and development firm.

Ravich received her Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the RAND Graduate School and her BSE/MCP from the Wharton School/University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, Cambridge University Press published Ravich’s book, “Marketization and Democracy: East Asian Experiences,” which is used as a basic textbook in international economics, political science, and Asian studies college courses throughout the country.

She is member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a CFR International Affairs Fellow. Ravich serves on the board of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the selection committee for the Hitachi Japan CFR International Fellows Program, and the National Counterterrorism Center’s Advisory Board.

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Comments

Scott Hendrickson
10/28/2012 1:50pm EDT

Ms. Ravich started with “I am not a big fan of the information revolution.” That’s a gutsy start given the crowd. But fortunately we were all drowsy, no one reacted. Technically, she was one of the best speakers—she spoke clearly and slowly, her argument was logically organized, she told a good story, and used a powerful myth as a supporting metaphor for her point.

Near the end of her talk, she made a request: “If strategic decision makers in the situation room are going to win the information revolution, developers need a better insight into the thought process of how the policy decision makers reason and think, how we assemble and prioritize information.”

I am afraid I heard something a little like this… Look, we are good at making gut decisions. We can make them fast. We feel and act confidently about them. But you guys didn’t make the proper context for our heuristics and biases so they didn’t reflect reality. Do better next time.

On one hand, fair enough. That’s the job I signed up for. But it also seems there is room here for more responsible accounting for biases on the part of the decision makers? And that sometimes means wading through boring data and trying to understand something you don’t already understand.

(Expanded version of this comment at drskippy.net)

Eugene Koontz
10/25/2012 5:50am EDT

Has the speaker had any luck finding the WMDs that she and her boss Dick Cheney used as the justification for the Iraq War? Perhaps a MapReduce job running on a properly tuned Hadoop cluster could help find them.

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