Los Angeles occupies a special place in the American story of how the economic, political and cultural power of imagination shaped the country’s past – and will shape its future. During the 1950s, the aerospace industry’s Jet Age defined the American sense of possibility during the cultural and strategic contest of the Cold War. Through film and television, Hollywood became synonymous with the global dominance of the US entertainment industry, where a set of visionary ideas today can have market value measured in the billions of dollars.
At a moment when imagination carries a premium in Washington, the Atlantic Council Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security recently held a private dinner for more than 60 creative professionals and entertainment industry executives in Los Angeles. The goal was to create a new kind of relationship between Hollywood and Washington. At the dinner, Steven Hadley, former National Security Advisor, and James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the importance of creative and disruptive approaches to everything from bringing in outside perspectives to check fundamental assumptions to fully exploring the implications of ongoing robotics and artificial intelligence advances.
The Art of the Future Project will host regular public and private events in Washington and Los Angeles. One of the project’s key aims is to forge relationships across the coasts to better understand, and prepare for, an increasingly complex and dynamic future.
The Art of the Future Project already counts two fellows in Los Angeles who are shaping how narratives and new approaches to managing creative teams can be used to help the government. Along with Dave Anthony, Max Brooks, the author of World War Z , is a non-resident senior fellow. He recently participated in a Marine Corps Warfighting Lab workshop helping Marines develop written narratives exploring the global environment between 2030-2045.
The Art of the Future Project’s next LA event will be in June to support the Scowcroft Center Strategic Foresight Initiative’s Global Trends 2035 report this year and to engage with the National Intelligence Council officials preparing the government’s own report of the same purpose. The Global Trends 2035 report is one of the most important research projects because of its all-encompassing look at future factors that will shape nearly every facet of life two decades from now, from demography to biotechnology. Dr. Mat Burrows, Director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative at the Atlantic Council and former Director at the National Intelligence Council, leads the Atlantic Council’s Global Trends 2035 report.
While there has always been a back and forth between the Beltway and Tinseltown, this is the moment to forge a 21st Century relationship between Washington and Hollywood for a more engaged and sophisticated exchange of effort as well as ideas.