Episode 17: Technology adoption and organisational learning by terrorists and start-ups, with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Carolina “Nina” Ponzeto

DaveedGRFor this episode of Sub Rosa, Andrew interviewed Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Carolina “Nina” Ponzeto from Valens Global. They discuss technology adoption and organisational learning, focusing on terrorist organisations as well as regular commercial start-ups.

This is a lengthy episode, covering a wide range of topics.

The episode first discusses a new report (co-authored by NinaPonzetoDaveed along with Matt Shear and David Jones) on the use of technology by violent non-state actors, such as drug cartels, terrorist groups, or insurgent organisations. This part of the discussion looks at remotely planned terrorist attacks, the use of drones, the use of commercial drones by violent non-state actors, as well as cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence.

The conversation then turns to Valens Global itself, which is a start-up in the national security sector. Nina, as their Chief Operating Officer, tells us about ways in which Valens Global adopts technology and engages in organisational learning. Part of this discussion looks at how running your own organisation can provide insight into how other organisations are run, including violent organisations, as well as how the academic field of terrorism studies hasn’t greatly focused on organisational learning.

Andrew, Daveed and Nina also discuss broader national security debates, how the “marketplace of ideas” can be quite dysfunctional at times, and how start-ups in this area can help address some of these problems but also risk exacerbating them.

The episode runs for about 90 minutes. This is the first Sub Rosa episode recorded over Skype, so there are a couple of patches of poor sound quality. These are mostly in the first 15 minutes, but it clears up afterwards.

The episode was recorded on 11 October 2019, and the main report discussed is now available online: Virtual Plotters. Drones. Weaponized AI?: Violent Non-State Actors as Deadly Early Adopters.

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