Time Machine 2018: Admiral Bobby R. Inman, America’s Top Spy
Admiral Bobby R. Inman has never been the sort that might be pegged as a military man. In high school, he recalls, he weighed 96 pounds and tutored popular athletes to keep from being bullied. Even as an adult, he describes himself as “so clumsy I can’t walk across a room without bumping into the furniture.”
But as Fortune Magazine once wrote in a profile on Inman, he’s “simply one of the smartest people ever to come out of Washington or anywhere, who dazzles just about everybody he meets. He pulled off a military career practically unmatched in the history of the Navy, without firing a shot.”
Inman graduated from college at just 19, at which point he joined the Naval Reserve and soared rapidly through the ranks. By 1974, he was Director of Naval Intelligence. From there, he went on to serve as Vice Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director of the NSA, and Deputy Director of the CIA.
During his time heading up the top organizations in the U.S. Intelligence Community, Inman led the NSA and CIA through a particularly fraught series of decades; transforming them with critical shifts in their culture and practices and overseeing major technical and administrative improvements. The changes he implemented still form the basis of their operations today.
He also championed technology during his tenure, pushing for the incorporation of computers into the Intelligence Community’s processes. Since retiring with the permanent rank of Admiral, he has been an avid investor in startup technology.
His functional role may have changed, but his goal hasn’t: to protect and serve his country, whether through the military or economics. It is this passion he brings to the global race for AI, both in the public and private sectors.
As Time Machine 2018 approaches, we’re pleased to highlight some of the global executives, cultural innovators, and industry trailblazers who will be speaking at the conference.