Dr. David Bray, Founder Director, Atlantic Council

Dr. David A. Bray has served in a variety of leadership roles in turbulent environments, including bioterrorism preparedness and response from 2000-2005, time on the ground in Afghanistan in 2009, serving as the non-partisan Executive Director for a bipartisan National Commission on R&D, and providing leadership as a non-partisan federal agency Senior Executive.  

Podcast

Overview

Does thinking about the future excite you and inspire you? With so many technological changes in the last few years, the future is literally here. As we enjoy the benefits of technology, each and every day, are we prepared for the challenges that technology brings with it? 

Dr. David A Bray, Founder Director of Atlantic Council and a Computer Scientist from the US talks about his work and the future of technology and its impacts. Named as one of the “24 Americans who is going to change the world” by Business Insider, Dr. David is a true agent of change. He was also named the Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum 2016-2021.

Significant changes in technology since a few decades 

“If anything, Covid just accelerated us five or six years in the future.” Dr. David remarks on the subject. He talks about the economic, social, and political trends until the 21st century, the cold war, 9/11, terrorist attacks, and more. Involved with the government since the beginning of his career, Dr. Bray shares some interesting facts about technology that has been used at the time of major attacks and happenings. He calls the years 2011-2021 “the decade of disillusionment.” 

Challenges of Open Societies 

“It is going to overload you with Future Shock.”

Dr. Bray talks about the possible digital divide because of the disproportionate distribution of technology that can cause frustration and violence among people with lesser digital power. He talks about the technological changes that are going to happen in the next decade in the areas of bio, space, and cyber. But what if the technology used by governments to control the state is given to the general public? It is a question with many possibilities but David shares how this can be a great benefit for our societies. 

He talks about climate change and how technology is going to help detect disruptions which will lead to a lot of good. Dr. Bray talks of democratizing this kind of technology and making it available to everyone so that the public doesn’t have to wait for the government to take the necessary action and is fully equipped to do so themselves. 

Will technology bridge the gap between Rich and Poor Countries? 

Dr. Bray shares some interesting examples of what our future would look like if some people had more opportunities than others. He talks about how rich farmers will be able to improve the condition of their soil/crops through technology but at the same time, the poorer ones will have to suffer the losses. Hence creating a divide between the community. “We need to figure out how do you actually make it so that the underdogs can also play a role in this tech.”

Profile

Dr. David A. Bray has served in a variety of leadership roles in turbulent environments, including bioterrorism preparedness and response from 2000-2005, time on the ground in Afghanistan in 2009, serving as the non-partisan Executive Director for a bipartisan National Commission on R&D, and providing leadership as a non-partisan federal agency Senior Executive. He accepted a leadership role in December 2019 to incubate a new global Center with the Atlantic Council.

He also provides strategy to both Boards and start-ups espousing human-centric principles to technology-enabled decision making in complex environments. He was also named a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition in starting in 2018. Business Insider named him one of the top “24 Americans Who Are Changing the World” under 40 and he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for 2016-2021. From 2017 to the start of 2020, David served as Executive Director for the People-Centered Internet coalition Chaired by Internet co-originator Vint Cerf, focused on providing support and expertise for community-focused projects that measurably improve people’s lives using the internet.

He also was named a Marshall Memorial Fellow and traveled to Europe in 2018 to discuss Trans-Atlantic issues of common concern including exponential technologies and the global future ahead. Later in 2018, he was invited to work with the U.S. Navy and Marines on improving organizational adaptability and to work with U.S. Special Operation Command’s J5 Directorate on the challenges of countering misinformation and disinformation online. He has received both the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award and the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal.

David enjoys creative problem-solving. He began working for the U.S. government at age 15 on computer simulations at a high-energy physics facility investigating quarks and neutrinos. In later roles, he designed new telemedicine interfaces and space-based forest fire forecasting prototypes for the Department of Defense. From 1998-2000 he volunteered as a part-time crew lead with Habitat for Humanity International in the Philippines, Honduras, Romania, and Nepal while also working as a project manager with Yahoo! and a Microsoft partner firm. Dr. Bray then joined as IT Chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading the program’s technology response to during 9/11, anthrax in 2001, Severe Acute Respiratory System in 2003, and other international public health emergencies. He later completed a Ph.D. from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and two post-doctoral associateships at MIT and Harvard in 2008.

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