Global Rethinkers -- Jason Matheny

Foreign Policy

In the James Bond films, “Q” was the agent in charge of the British intelligence service’s secretive research division where scientists invented spy gadgets, such as cyanide cigarettes and ski pole guns. Jason Matheny is something of a real-life, modern-day Q — a scientist to the spies. But instead of developing poison fountain pens, his purview covers complex research topics including quantum computing, biological weapons, nuclear proliferation, and neuroscience. Matheny is the head of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a U.S. government agency formed in 2006 that funds the development of predictive technology in order to ward off impending global crises and conflicts, as well as highlight potential opportunities where the United States could gain an intelligence edge on its competitors.