Eric Haseltine

Author, Long Fuse, Big Bang
Former CTO for the U.S. intelligence community
Former Executive Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering

The machines are getting smarter, but so is the data.

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Throughout his career, Eric Haseltine has been helping organisations harvest the future by developing far-sighted technological solutions that deliver near-term value.

He is an expert on managing innovation processes, with deep experience in several industries. He’s done this in the defense and entertainment industries — for Hughes Aircraft, designing virtual reality technology for flight simulation, then Disney Imagineering as head of R&D, and ultimately, for the U. S. intelligence community as the Director of National Intelligence’s CTO.

Eric was recently named a member of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee in the United States. The HSSTAC provides scientific and technical advice to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for Science and Technology on matters related to the expansion of technological capabilities across the homeland security enterprise.

Dr. Haseltine specialises in helping organisations whose sales and profits have plateaued to re-discover aggressive growth. Applying principles described in his book, Long Fuse, Big Bang, Haseltine helps organisations find big opportunities that are staring them right in the face, but they don't see because of the human brain's natural tendency to filter out information that it doesn't expect or want. Through his experiences as a PhD Neuroscientist and senior executive in both industry and government, Eric not only shows organisations how to find opportunities hiding in their brain's don't-expect-don't-want blind spots, but also how to capture these opportunities once identified. His consulting clients include Fortune 100 companies as well as large Federal agencies.

Eric Haseltine has had a remarkable combination of backgrounds and professional opportunities that enabled him to write this unique and powerful book of breakthrough insights and ideas about how to manage our hardwired brains more effectively."
— John McArthur, Dean Emeritus Harvard Business School

Eric also speaks as a futurist, connecting two perspectives: navigation (where do we need to be going?) and steering (how do we get there?)

Most technology futurists focus on the technology, the bitware — software, hardware, firmware, any kind of ware that isn’t neurons. But it’s the wetware — the neurons — that really matter. Technology is constantly changing, but human nature stays pretty much the same. As a neuroscientist and ‘psycho-ecologist,’ Eric extrapolates human nature where it intersects technology in the future. That intersection is where the opportunities and necessities are. Maximizing performance when you get there depends on providing for the human nature of the user.

Eric Haseltine is uniquely qualified to make the crucial connection: predict the technical requirements of the design and marry it to the needs of the user.

Eric has 15 patents in optics, special effects and electronic media, and more than 100 publications in science and technical journals, the web, and Discover magazine.


  • President and Managing Director, Haseltine Partners LLC
  • Former Director of Research, National Security Agency
  • Former Associate Director for Science and Technology, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Former Executive Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering
  • Former director of engineering, Hughes Aircraft


Long Fuse, Big Bang

Achieving Long-Term Success Through Daily Victories

Eric Haseltine

A neuroscientist — and corporate executive — shows how to transform puny firecrackers into big sticks of dynamite.

Eric Haseltine has applied discoveries about the human brain to his work in fields as diverse as aerospace, entertainment, and national defense. And all too often he has come up against short-term thinking that focuses on putting out fires instead of long-term thinking that can create explosive opportunities and open up new markets.

Our brains have let the tyranny of the urgent stifle the pursuit of the important for too long, Haseltine says. It’s time to find a way to work around our hard-wired, short-term orientation in order to light that long fuse. And in Long Fuse, Big Bang, he shows how to do just that. From learning how to see though blind spots to looking to the future for revolutionary ideas, long-term thinking is the key to success – and survival – in an era of accelerating change.

The essence of Long Fuse thinking is to imagine where the arc of history is going, then figure out how to apply enduring strategies in a quick fix world, to translate long-term Big Bang opportunities into short-term projects that are in harmony, not in conflict, with our “got-to-have-it-now” nature.

Hyperion Books; 1 edition (8 July 2010)


Successively a neuroscientist. An aerospace manager. A senior executive in a corporation long renowned for its exceptional creativity. And a senior intelligence officer in the United States Government. A towering figure in his generation of American leaders and thinkers. Eric Haseltine has had a remarkable combination of backgrounds and professional opportunities that enabled him to write this unique and powerful book of breakthrough insights and ideas about how to manage our hardwired brains more effectively. Brains that have evolved slowly over the long stretch of human history so as to focus our attention almost ineluctably upon immediate threats and concerns at the expense of important long term opportunities and objectives. Brains he has put it...let the tyranny of the urgent stifle the pursuit of the important. Confronted by endless distractions coming at us from all sides our brains have evolved over the eons so that we naturally yield to the lure of short-term successes and immediate gratification. 

Haseltine summarizes his learnings as follows..."It seems that we are governed by an ancient script, and that the vast majority of our feelings, behaviors, and perceptions are not of our conscious choosing, but are the collective actions of many fast but unconscious processes....Knowing this, understanding how and why your brain makes choices, you can (develop the capacity to) decide if the choices are right and convince your brain to act in its best interest." From this he goes on to explore a number of interesting and well selected case studies that show how some of our most highly regarded leaders over time, perhaps without realizing it, perfected the application of neuroscience to achieve exceptional results. 

These case studies in themselves are very interesting and well done. Really well done. But it is in his unmatched application of neuroscience to these cases...and the insights that are slowly growing out of fundamental research going on in these years about the brain, the mind, and human behavior...where Eric Haseltine makes his most fundamental contribution. It is truly original and path breaking thinking and writing that for sure suggests where things must be heading in our slowly growing understanding of human behaviors and in research going on across the academy that is directed toward understanding how we really do think and act as life goes on around us. Putting all of this together as he has is a tour de force in terms of suggesting how future researches in these domains must evolve if they are to be soundly based.
— John McArthur, Dean Emeritus Harvard Business School


Eric tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

The Human Dimension of Cyber Security

When most organisations think of cyber security they focus on technologies such as firewalls,encryption, access control and anti-malware.

These technologies give an illusory-and dangerous — sense of safety while the biggest threat to networks and data goes largely ignored. This threat is human frailty in all its forms. Malicious insiders, careless employees and poorly designed systems that invite misuse inflict far more damage than hackers.

A former Associate Director at NSA and CTO of the entire US Intelligence Community, Dr. Haseltine is intimately familiar with the under appreciated importance of the human dimension to cyber security.

The good news is that policies and and measures that address problems such as insider threats cost far less than technologies that guard against outside attack. And, they're far more effective.

Haseltine has identified 10 simple, inexpensive things organisations can do to stop leakage and damage to networks and data due to human factors. For example, he has developed access controls that eliminate the need for highly vulnerable passwords. also, he has identified corporate governance processes that let organizations "bake in security" from the beggining, rather than "spread it on" after the fact.

The future of the Internet of Things: The emergence of human/machine hybrids

  • The big picture: How IOT will progressively connect the “Global Digital Brain” to human brains as IOT devices grow more and more intimate with human biology and activity. Biometric sensors will evolve into direct interfaces with the nervous system, transforming the way human exploit digital technology and communications

  • Continued penetration of computers and networks into “cheaper and cheaper” things such as pens, pencils, paper, kitchenware, furniture

  • The complexity of interconnections and data will surpass human’s ability to comprehend the massive volume, variety and velocity of information. Unplanned, emergent properties of hybrid human-computer intelligence will have major impact on people’s personal and professional lives

  • A massive shakeout of winners and losers will occur among the myriad of devices now on the market. Winners will:

    • Make sense and derive value from overwhelming complexity

    • Simplify life

    • Save money

    • Make money

    • Enhance human relationships

    • Greatly increase users sense of power and control over their increasingly complex lives

  • IOT Growth will not explode until interoperability standards (either official of de facto) simplify interconnectivity, making user’s lives less complicated, not more complicated. Forecast of who the likely standards winners will be (e.g. Apple, Google, Home Depot, Qualcomm)

The future of science and technology (S&T): Predicting the past to predict the future

  • Past game-changing advances over the last 700 years have had one or more common antecedents
    • Invention of new instruments (e.g. telescope, microscope)

    • Convergence of very diverse technologies (e.g. genomics and computer science to decode genes)

    • “Fringe” ideas deemed at the time improbable, but not impossible (e.g. bacteria cause ulcers, continental drift)

    • Humans removing themselves from the center of everything (e.g. heliocentrism, Evolution)

  • We can anticipate where the next big breakthroughs are likely to emerge by looking at where these antecedents are taking shape today. Examples:

    • Emergence of real time, inexpensive brain sensing and imaging technology (Functional near Infrared Sensors, fNIRS) to allow mind control over everyday objects and mind-to-mind communication

    • Convergence of microbiology, virology and nano-science to create very low cost, self- assembly of materials, structures, electronics and human organ replacements

    • Validation of a few key “fringe theories” that will revolutionize our fundamental understanding of nature. Candidates: Julian Barber’s hypothesis that time does not exist, Penrose’s idea that the human brain is a quantum computer and consciousness in a quantum phenomenon

    • Emergence of Artificial Intelligence (vs. Human Intelligence) to perform engineering design, scientific research, marriage counseling, medical diagnosis, driving cars, writing novels, and teaching our children.

      - Hypothesis that “Singularity” has already occurred and is transforming our world (e.g. stock market fluctuations), but we have missed the singularity because our human-centered perception has been looking for Human-like intelligence, vs. “Alien” machine intelligence

Ten myths of cyber security: Improving security with simple, inexpensive techniques that target underappreciated vulnerabilities

  • Cyber defense is often ineffective because it is based on mistaken beliefs about where major threats come from.

  • Fallible human processes for designing, building, maintaining and operating networks and computers are far more important to cyber defense than technologies — where most resources are typically focused — such as firewalls, anomaly detectors, encryption and anti-malware software

  • Examples of myths that create ineffective, even counterproductive protections are

    • Strong passwords are strong (they actually degrade security)

    • IT operators know what their networks are (They almost always do not know)

    • Hackers pose the greatest threats (Human insiders are far more dangerous)

    • Standardization of computers and software is the most cost-effective way to run an IT network (Standardization creates enormous, expensive vulnerabilities because it allows single vulnerabilities to scale across an entire enterprise (average cost of a data breach — often facilitated by standardization — is $5.5M)

  • Shifting focus from technology to human behavior can quickly, efficiently and inexpensively improve security . Examples:

    • Greatly simplifying human access control using multi-factor biometrics on cell phones
    • Monitoring behavior and giving instant feedback when problematic behavior occurs (simple operant conditioning)
    • Streamlining and greatly simplifying the ways IT systems are defined and purchased

The Future of Technology

Dr Haseltine will provide a glimpse into the future, describing how advances in technology will provide exciting growth opportunities for your organisation. Eric’s talk will begin with forecasts of key technologies including sensors, computers, power systems, algorithms and networks, then describe how these advances could dramatically affect business. For example, the volume, variety and velocity of data flowing in from monitored sites is likely to grow exponentially over the next ten years, as inexpensive networked sensors proliferate, and communications systems, such as M2M wireless data channels rapidly expand. Similarly, advances in machine vision, pattern recognition and data mining will create opportunities for exploiting the fast growing flood of information, to help you provide dealers novel, value added services such as failure analysis and prediction.

The talk will conclude with a discussion, based on Haseltine’s experience managing R&D at Hughes Aircraft, Walt Disney and NSA, of best-of-class R&D processes you can employ to fully capture the opportunities that technology will create.

The Healthcare Wiki

As part owner and CTO of a start-up for-profit Health Wiki, Eric Haseltine has unique insight and practical ideas on how to transform the consumer health care experience from one that is confusing, fragmented, impersonal, expensive and often ineffective, to one that is simple, integrated, personalized and cost effective.

Just as user groups for many technology products often know more about the product than their manufacturers do, so there are many “amateur experts” on different illnesses — e.g. patients or relatives of patients who have educated themselves on a disease—who know more than many doctors about how to diagnose and treat the disease. This is especially true for rare diseases. And like other technology “amateur experts,” these power users are willing to help other users for free.

Eric’s Wiki will add to the health information on Wikipedia by making it much easier for these Amateur experts to create and edit Wiki articles. It will start by “copying” Wikipedia into their for-profit Web site, and then expanding Wikipedia’s information by allowing many sources of information currently forbidden by Wikipedia. These include pharmaceutical companies, health care providers and individuals who wish to express “opinions” (e.g. consumer product review of a new medical product).

In addition to this free content, the project is creating on-line health communities associated with the Wiki, so that users can communicate directly with and help each other to navigate the increasingly complex and frustrating health care system. The site also will have links to doctors, health care products and other health services so that users can immediately turn their new-found knowledge into action from a single portal.

Finally, the site will provide a highly secure “vault” for users to store and update their digital personal health records. Information gleaned from each personal health record will help our algorithms deliver personalised information, and links to services best suited for each individual. For example, based on medical record and family history, we will spot adverse drug reactions, or locate the best doctor for a particular disease within driving distance of the user. We will go to great lengths to protect the privacy of individual users by employing NSA-level security on the health vault, which is Eric’s specific role in the enterprise.


What will be the next big scientific breakthrough?

The Next Big Thing | TEDx


A research administration for education and professional development programs:
Eric just finished his Keynote. He was beyond outstanding!

A major financial service company:
Eric was a super star. Great recommendation!

A security and fire alarm systems company:
Everything went great! Our dealers really liked his message. The president of the company really found value in his statements and insight.

A technology company:
Hello Eric — thank you so much for such an outstanding session. In our feedback, you are being described as "tremendous" and "awesome". It was an absolute pleasure to speak with you, not only are you an incredible technologist and innovator but you are also very funny!! It's a potent combination.