The Kissinger Conference

Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy
Jackson Institute For Global Affairs

Understanding Cyber Warfare and Artificial Intelligence
Featuring The Honorable Dr. Henry Kissinger
Former Alphabet Chairman and Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter

Friday April 6th, 2018

Yale Cyber Leadership participants are invited to attend these special events. Please let us know if you are planning to do so. 

Today’s Internet is far more than a system for sending mail or compiling information.  Cyberspace is the backbone of our global commerce, communication and defense systems, and the critical infrastructure that powers our modern civilization.  Yet despite the immense benefits that have resulted from this global connectivity, significant vulnerabilities persist and threats are on the rise, especially from the standpoint of American national security interests.

In the last decade alone, cybersecurity has moved rapidly to the forefront of international relations, posing multiple challenges to U.S. grand strategy: Russian cyberattacks on critical infrastructure in the United States and Ukraine; North Korea’s cyberattack against Sony Pictures and sponsorship of global cybercrime; cyberweapons like Stuxnet, which attacked the Iranian nuclear enrichment program at Natanz; scandals associated with WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the National Security Agency; and tensions in U.S.-China relations resulting from cyberespionage and theft of intellectual property.

Yet the future of cyberspace likely will prove even more transformative due to advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Algorithms used for cyber-operations will become increasingly capable of processing massive amounts of data, identifying and disguising subtle behavioral signatures, responding and adapting at scale, and discovering novel exploits. Artificial intelligence poses tremendous opportunities for economic growth and societal well-being, yet the potential threats also are extraordinary: autonomous weaponry, AI-augmented cyberwarfare, and strategic instability as nations race to deploy these unpredictable technologies.

The seventh annual Johnson Center conference will bring together a mix of academics, practitioners, and students, who will analyze the threats and opportunities associated with cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence.  Particular attention will be paid to whether there exist any historical parallels and lessons learned from nuclear weapons, as this past summer marked the 60th anniversary of Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, Dr. Kissinger’s seminal work that examined the relationship between technology and strategy in the nuclear age.

How do we understand the current cybersecurity technical threat landscape, and what are the implications for U.S. national security?  Can there be deterrence and mutually assured destruction in cyberspace, or do these Cold War concepts not transfer to the current environment?  Are arms control and verification agreements possible with respect to cyberweapons or future threats from artificial intelligence?  Can we establish international laws and norms to discourage the proliferation and use of the most destructive cyber technologies?  How can policymakers devise effective strategies for artificial intelligence concerns that have not yet materialized or that we have not yet even envisioned?



Dr. Henry Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger was sworn in on September 22, 1973, as the 56th Secretary of State, a position he held until January 20, 1977. He also served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from January 20, 1969, until November 3, 1975. In July 1983 he was appointed by President Reagan to chair the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America until it ceased operation in January 1985, and from 1984-1990 he served as a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. From 1986-1988 he was a member of the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy of the National Security Council and Defense Department. He served as a member of the Defense Policy Board from 2001 to 2016.

At present, Dr. Kissinger is Chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm. He is also a member of the International Council of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; a Counselor to and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; an Honorary Governor of the Foreign Policy Association; and an Honor Member of the International Olympic Committee. Among his other activities, Dr. Kissinger served as a member of the Board of Directors of ContiGroup Companies, Inc. from 1988-2014 and remains an Advisor to the Board, a position he also holds at American Express Company since 2005, after serving on the Board from 1984. He is also a Trustee Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; a Director Emeritus of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc.; and a Director of the International Rescue Committee.

Among the awards Dr. Kissinger has received have been a Bronze Star from the U.S. Army in 1945; the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973; the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian award) in 1977; and the Medal of Liberty (given one time to ten foreign-born American leaders) in 1986.

Dr. Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, came to the United States in 1938, and was naturalized a United States citizen in 1943. He served in the Army from February 1943 to July 1946. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954.

From 1954 until 1969 he was a member of the faculty of Harvard University, in both the Department of Government and the Center for International Affairs. He was Director of the Harvard International Seminar from 1952 to 1969.


Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt served as the Executive Chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors from 2015 to early 2018. He has served as the Executive Chairman of Google’s board of directors since April 2011 and as a member of Google’s board of directors since March 2001.

From July 2001 to April 2011, Eric served as Google’s Chief Executive Officer. He was the chairman of Google’s board of directors from March 2001 to April 2004, and again from April 2007 to April 2011.

Prior to joining Google, from April 1997 to November 2001, Eric served as chairman of the board of directors of Novell, Inc., a computer networking company, and, from April 1997 to July 2001, as the Chief Executive Officer of Novell.

From 1983 until March 1997, Eric held various positions at Sun Microsystems, Inc., a supplier of network computing solutions, including Chief Technology Officer from February 1994 to March 1997, and President of Sun Technology Enterprises from February 1991 until February 1994.

Eric was previously a director of Apple Inc., a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of personal computers and related products, from 2006 to 2009.

Eric holds a Doctoral degree and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University.


Ashton Carter

Ashton B. Carter served as the 25th Secretary of Defense.

Secretary Carter has spent more than three decades leveraging his knowledge of science and technology, global strategy and policy as well as his deep dedication to the men and women of the Department of Defense to make our nation and the world a safer place. He has done so in direct and indirect service of eleven secretaries of defense in both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Whether in government, academia, or the private sector, Secretary Carter has been guided by pragmatism and his belief in the boundless opportunities of the United States and has worked tirelessly to contribute to the ideas, policies, and innovations that assure our global leadership.

Secretary Carter was Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013, serving as DoD’s chief operating officer, overseeing the department’s annual budget and its over three million civilian and military personnel, steering strategy and budget through the turmoil of sequester and ensuring the future of the force and institutional best practices. From 2009 to 2011, he was Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (ATL) with responsibility for DoD’s procurement reform and innovation agenda and successful completion of key procurements like the KC-46 tanker. In this capacity, Secretary Carter also led the development and production of thousands of mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles and other rapid acquisitions that saved countless service members’ lives. 



Friday, April 6


Conference Welcome
Peter Salovey
, President, Yale University
James Levinsohn, Director, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs

Keynote Address: Threats and Opportunities: Our Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence Future
Eric Schmidt
, former Chairman of Alphabet, Inc. and CEO of Google, Inc.


Reactions from The Honorable Dr. Henry Kissinger and Audience Discussion




Cybersecurity Leadership and Strategy: Reflections from the Department of Defense

ModeratorJohn Gaddis, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History, Yale University

SpeakerThe Honorable Ashton Carter, former Secretary of Defense and Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School