2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: From Lettuce to Warheads – Global Security and You

Written by Megan Simpson | January 28, 2014

At SXSW 2014, Brian Nordmann talks about global security and you

With over 35 years experience in the development of sensors and 25 years coordinating technology development for arms control monitoring, Brian Nordmann of the U.S. Department of State will present a solo conversation at this year’s 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival. His presentation is the focus of today’s Session Spotlight, and is titled, “From Lettuce to Warheads - Global Security and You”. Read about what he had to say about his presentation below and catch up with him on Twitter @BrianNordmann.

SXSW: Simply put, what is your session about?
Nordmann: In 2009, President Obama, speaking in Prague, talked about his long-term vision of eliminating all nuclear warheads from the world. I will describe the types of capabilities and tools currently being sought to bring new approaches to the job of verifying historically significant arms control treaties such as START, New START, and others, as we continue down the path towards the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

SXSW: Have you spoken about this before?
Nordmann: Yes. I have spoken on this topic and some of the key elements of this topic to audiences around the world to audiences as diverse as policy wonks, techno-geeks, and students. The conversation has always sparked great interest and many questions -- sometimes far into the night.

SXSW: Who should attend your session and why?
Nordmann: Techno-geeks with an interest in national security, policy wonks with a fascination with technology and interested innocent bystanders with a passion for the survival of the world should come to the session. It is a fascinating topic that people don't like to think about, but need to be aware of. It is a new way for techno-geeks to help civilization.Plus, the State Department has a small amount of capital funds to potentially help finance some new ventures in this world.

SXSW: What about those attendees who are unfamiliar with this topic – will they be able to follow the discussion?
Nordmann: I have learned to break things down to a very basic level in English that even dogs and cats can understand. Interest is more important that technical expertise.

SXSW: What’s the best book or article you’ve read in relation to this topic?
Nordmann: Hmmm. "The Open Innovation Marketplace" by Alpheus Bingham and Dwayne Spradlin, "Societal Verification" by Dieter Deiseroth and "Public Domain Treaty Compliance Verification in the Digital Age" by Christopher Stubbs and Sidney Drell.

SXSW: Why is speaking about this at SXSW Interactive a big deal?
Nordmann: This is a critically important audience, but one that is not reachable by the more traditional approaches used by government agencies for communicating. A friend who has participated in SXSW since the beginning called it "Woodstock for Innovation." I need that sort of audience to hear our message and help us find answers. I'm hoping to find either new answers or new approaches to old questions. I'm hoping to be able to start at least two long-term solution-based relationships out of the festival.

SXSW: What’s your favorite gadget and why?
Nordmann: Hmmm, either an air-pumped wine de-corker or an arduino-based robot I'm building which refuses to do anything I program it to do.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. Register now to attend “From Lettuce to Warheads - Global Security and You,” and other programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.