Gen. David H. Petraeus, former director of the CIA who currently teaches at USC, weighed in on four technological developments that have emerged since the Great Recession on Wednesday evening at the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study in Doheny Memorial Library.
During the hourlong discussion, Petraeus noted that the four revolutions of energy, manufacturing, life sciences and information technology are all interconnected.
Petraeus, who is well known for changing the tide in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said each revolution is dependent on one another. He emphasized that the energy revolution enabled the information technology revolution and great growth of storage, which led to the manufacturing revolution.
“When you take these four revolutions and you take the demographics of the United States, the state of the global economy, we may be on the threshold of the North American decades,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus described the “North American decades” as a time of success for not only the United States, but also for Canada and Mexico.
“These revolutions are historic and are going to give an incredible boost to our economy,” Petraeus said.
Following his lecture, Petraeus answered students’ questions about his opinion on cyber espionage and exporting oil to Asian countries.
He noted that in the near future, many new jobs will arise in several different fields, and encouraged students to be hopeful for what is to come. Petraeus said many of these new jobs will come through the evolving energy and manufacturing industries, noting that just this past week, the United States surpassed Russia to become the No. 1 producer of oil and gas in the world.
“This is coming soon to a theater near us, this is not fantasy,” Petraeus said. “There are already steps in the direction toward this.”
During the discussion, Petraeus cracked jokes about Edward Snowden and the U.S. legislature but became serious when asked a question about ethics within American policies during war. He referenced the infamous pictures of Abu Ghraib prison torture.
“We try to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the international law. With that said, we’re not perfect,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus also said that more attention needs to be paid to the nation’s shortcomings in education, immigration reform and infrastructure in order for the U.S. to stay ahead of other countries.
This was Petraeus’ second appearance at a USC event this week. On Monday evening, he spoke about the the importance of honoring veterans returning home from serving the country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many students responded positively to Petraeus’ discussion. Some believed the format of the discussion was helpful to understanding the conversation.
“It’s cool to have someone as famous as him come talk to us as equals,” said Rachel Jones, a junior majoring in political science.
Students also said that Petraeus provided more context to subjects that they already had an interest in.
“He gave me a more in-depth sense and knowledge of these issues,” said Berenice Yang Gonzalez, a junior majoring in political science and environmental studies. “It’s like knowing how to ride a bike and then learning how to ride a motorcycle.”
Students said the conversational format of the program was beneficial to their learning experience.
“It was insightful having his perspective because he looks at it from the top-down,” said Karthik Gollapudi, a junior majoring in computer science. “His experience will be helpful in integrating a lot of different departments and connecting them together.”
Editor’s note: The original article incorrectly listed Karthik Gollapudi’s major as business administration.
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