#111 Victoria Coleman on Science, Technology, and Innovation

#111 Victoria Coleman on Science, Technology, and Innovation

The Cognitive Crucible is a forum that presents different perspectives and emerging thought leadership related to the information environment. The opinions expressed by guests are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of or endorsement by the Information Professionals Association.

During this episode, Dr. Victoria Coleman discusses her priorities, as the Chief Scientist for the the United States Air Force. Dr. Coleman cites that China is especially good at military-civilian fusion, and the United States needs improvement in that area. She also asserts that commercial market feedback mechanisms help explain why the government tends to lag commercial innovation. The Air Force’s  enterprise-wide Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept was created recently to speed capability delivery. Dr. Coleman recently helped unveil a new competitive initiative which will create a University Affiliated Research Center at one of the United States Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


Research Question: In a democracy, there is tension between protecting individual freedoms while simultaneously ensuring that collective freedoms are not impacted. Digital human rights must be studied, understood, and co-evolved as containing both technology and policy components in order to protect group and individual outcomes. Promulgating digital human rights globally is a problem worthy of study.

Link to full show notes and resources

Guest Bio

Dr. Victoria Coleman is the Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force, Arlington, Virginia. She serves as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Chief of Space Operations. She provides assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the department’s mission. In this role, she identifies and analyzes technical issues, bringing them to the attention of department leaders. She interacts with other principals, operational commanders, combatant commands, acquisition, and science and technology communities to address cross-organizational issues and provide solutions. Dr. Coleman also interacts with other services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense on issues affecting the Department of the Air Force’s technical enterprise. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and is the Principal Science and Technology Representative of the Air Force to the civilian scientific and engineering community and to the public at large.

Dr. Coleman is on leave from University of California, Berkeley. Since 2016, Dr. Coleman has held an academic research appointment at the Berkeley Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society where she leads science and technology policy on microelectronics and efforts to develop tools for countering digital authoritarianism. Dr. Coleman has more than 35 years of experience in computer science and technology, including as both an academic leader and industry executive. Before DARPA, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Atlas AI P.B.C, a Silicon Valley start-up that brings world-class artificial intelligence solutions to sustainable development. By combining satellite data with other data sets, Atlas AI’s proprietary deep-learning models create actionable insights for governments, non-governmental organizations and commercial companies.

Dr. Coleman began her academic career in 1988 as a lecturer in computer science at Royal Holloway College, University of London, United Kingdom. She subsequently joined Queen Mary College, University of London, as a reader in computer science. There, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in computer science, created a Master of Science program in Dependable Computer Systems and supervised Doctor of Philosophy students.

In 1998, Dr. Coleman became the founding director of the System Design Laboratory at SRI International. The lab conducted research in trustworthy systems and cyber security. The programs she directed won support from DARPA. She also participated in the creation of the technologies leading to the spinout of Siri prior to its acquisition by Apple. She worked alongside the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security, creating the department’s cyber security agenda and becoming the founding Director of the DHS Cyber Security Research and Development Center. In 2004, Dr. Coleman became the Director of the Trust and Manageability Lab in the Corporate Technology Group of Intel and began serving as a member of Santa Clara University’s Computer Science and Engineering Department’s Advisory Board. In 2006, she became the Vice President of the Computer Science Laboratory at Samsung. In 2010, she took the position of Vice President of Software Engineering at Hewlett-Packard. In 2011, she became Nokia’s Vice President of Emerging Platforms.

Dr. Coleman served as the Vice President of Engineering for Multi-Device UX Platforms for Yahoo in 2013, and then took the position of Senior Vice President of Research and Design at Harman International Industries Infotainment Business Unit. She then served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Connected Home Business for Technicolor.

Beginning in 2016, Dr. Coleman served as the Chief Technology Officer of Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that supports Wikipedia, the world’s fifth most visited website. During this time, Dr. Coleman also served as a member of the Defense Science Board, where she provided independent advice to the Secretary of Defense, USD(R&E), and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She was a member of Lockheed Martin’s Technology Advisory Group, the Airbus Star Program and continued her work on the Santa Clara University Computer Science and Engineering Advisory Board. She served on the Board of Directors of the Public Library of Science.

Prior to accepting the role of Chief Scientist, Dr. Coleman served as the 22nd Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency where she oversaw a large suite of disruptive and innovative programs.

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