Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the surging candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has been simultaneously lauded for his devotion to technological innovation, and ridiculed for his warnings about futuristic weapons.
Gingrich, who has dabbled in science fiction and cited both futurist Alvin Toffler and the concept of “psychohistory” in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels as intellectual inspirations, has long been dubbed “Newt Skywalker” thanks to his vision of future warfare that blends fact and fantasy. This streak of futurism is, by his own admission, rooted in a political and philosophical belief about technology and power. ”I would rather rely on engineers than diplomats for security,” Gingrich told Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in 1994, in reference to his support for missile defense.
Not all his futurism is a bad thing. Many of Gingrich’s early ideas, such as encouraging the Pentagon to fund bureaucratically stripped-down “Skunk Works”–type innovation are laudable.