Steve Blank Technology, Innovation, And Great Power Competition  – 2022 Wrap Up

We simply wrapped up the second yr of our Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition class – now a part of our Stanford Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation.

Joe FelterRaj Shah and I designed the category to 1) give our college students an appreciation of the challenges and alternatives for the United States in its enduring strategic competitors with the People’s Republic of China, Russia and different rivals, and a pair of) supply insights on how industrial expertise (AI, machine studying, autonomy, cyber, quantum, semiconductors, entry to house, biotech, hypersonics, and others) are radically altering how we’ll compete throughout all the weather of nationwide energy e.g. diplomatic, informational, navy, financial, monetary, intelligence and legislation enforcement (our affect and footprint on the world stage).

Why This Class?
The return of strategic competitors between nice powers turned a centerpiece of the 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy. The 2021 Interim National Security Guidance and the administration’s not too long ago launched 2022 National Security Strategy clarify that China has quickly develop into extra assertive and is the one competitor doubtlessly able to combining its financial, diplomatic, navy, and technological energy to mount a sustained problem to a steady and open worldwide system. And as we’ve seen within the Ukraine, Russia stays decided to wage a brutal struggle to play a disruptive function on the world stage.

Prevailing on this competitors would require greater than merely buying the fruits of this technological revolution; it would require a paradigm shift within the pondering of how this expertise will be quickly built-in into new capabilities and platforms to drive new operational and organizational ideas and methods that change and optimize the best way we compete.

Class Organization
The readings, lectures, and visitor audio system explored how rising industrial applied sciences pose challenges and create alternatives for the United States in strategic competitors with nice energy rivals with an emphasis on the People’s Republic of China. We targeted on the challenges created when U.S. authorities companies, our federal analysis labs, and authorities contractors now not have unique entry to those superior applied sciences.

This course included all that you’d count on from a Stanford graduate-level class within the Masters in International Policy – complete readings, visitor lectures from present and former senior officers/specialists, and written papers. What makes the category distinctive nevertheless, is that that is an experiential coverage class. Students shaped small groups and launched into a quarter-long mission that bought them out of the classroom to 1) determine a precedence nationwide safety problem, after which to 2) validate the issue and suggest an in depth resolution examined towards precise stakeholders within the expertise and nationwide safety ecosystem.

The class was break up into three elements. Part 1, weeks 1 via 4 lined worldwide relations theories, methods and insurance policies round Great Power Competition particularly targeted on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Communist Peoples Party (CCP). Part 2, weeks 5 via 8, dove into the industrial applied sciences: semiconductors, house, cyber, AI and Machine Learning, High Performance Computing, and Biotech. In between elements 1 and a pair of of the category, the scholars had a midterm particular person mission. It required them to write down a 2,000-word coverage memo describing how a U.S. competitor is utilizing a selected expertise to counter U.S. pursuits and a proposal for the way the U.S. ought to reply. (These coverage memos had been reviewed by Tarun Chhabra, the Senior Director for Technology and National Security on the National Security Council.)

Each week the scholars needed to learn 5-10 articles (see class readings right here.) And every week we had visitor audio system on nice energy competitors, and expertise and its impression on nationwide energy and lectures/class dialogue.

Guest Speakers
In addition to the educating workforce, the course drew on the expertise and experience of visitor lecturers from business and from throughout U.S. Government companies to supply context and perspective on industrial applied sciences and nationwide safety.

Our class opened with three visitor audio system; former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the CIA’s CTO and COO Nand Mulchandani and Andy Makridis. The final class closed with a chat by Google ex-Chairman Eric Schmidt.

In the weeks in-between we had educating workforce lectures adopted by audio system that led discussions on the vital industrial applied sciences. For semiconductors, the White House Coordinator for the CHIPS Act – Ronnie Chatterji, and the CTO of Applied Materials – Om Nalamasu. For industrial tech integration and house, former Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Director Mike Brown and B. General Bucky Butow – Director of the Space Portfolio. For Artificial Intelligence, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Jack Shanahan, former director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. And for artificial biology Stanford Professor Drew Endy – President, BioBricks Foundation.

Team-based Experiential Project
The third a part of the category was distinctive – a quarter-long, team-based mission. Students shaped groups and developed hypotheses of how industrial applied sciences can be utilized in new and inventive methods to assist the U.S. wield its devices of nationwide energy. And per all our Gordian Knot Center courses, they bought out of the classroom and interviewed 20+ beneficiaries, coverage makers, and different key stakeholders testing their hypotheses and proposed options. At the tip of the quarter, every of the groups gave a ultimate “Lessons Learned” presentation and adopted up with a 3,000 to five,000-word team-written paper.

By the tip of the category all of the groups realized that the issue that they had chosen had morphed into one thing larger, deeper, and way more fascinating.

Team 1: Climate Change

Original Problem Statement: What mixtures of applied sciences and worldwide monetary relationships ought to the US prioritize to mitigate local weather change?

Final Problem Statement: How ought to the US handle China’s dominance in photo voltaic panels?

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here.

We knew that these college students might write a terrific analysis paper. As we identified to them, when you will be the neatest individual within the constructing, it’s unlikely that 1) all of the info are within the constructing, 2) you’re smarter than the collective intelligence sitting exterior the constructing.

Jonah Cader: “Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition (TIGPC) is that rare combination of the theoretical, tactical, and practical. Over 10 weeks, Blank, Felter, and Shah outline the complexities of modern geopolitical tensions and bring students up the learning curves of critical areas of technological competition, from semiconductors to artificial intelligence. Each week of the seminar is a crash course in a new domain, brought to life by rich discussion and an incredible slate of practitioners who live and breathe the content of TIGPC daily. Beyond the classroom, the course plunges students into getting “out of the building” to iterate shortly whereas translating learnings to the actual world. Along the best way the course acts as a robust name to public service.”

Team 2: Networks

Original Problem Statement: How would possibly we implement a ubiquitous safe world entry to the web with a view to assist circumvent censorship in authoritarian regimes?

 Final Problem Statement: How can we create an open, free Internet and keep efficient traces of communication in Taiwan in preparation for a possible invasion?

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here

By week 2 of the category college students shaped groups round a selected expertise problem dealing with a US authorities company and labored all through the course to develop their very own proposals to assist the U.S. compete extra successfully via new operational ideas, organizations, and/or methods.

Jason KimThis course doesn’t just discuss U.S. national security issues. It teaches students how to apply an influential and proven methodology to rapidly develop solutions to our most challenging problems.”

Team 3: Acquisition

Original Problem Statement: How can the U.S. Department of Defense match or beat the pace of nice energy opponents in buying and integrating vital applied sciences?

Final Problem Statement: How can the U.S. Department of Defense deploy various funding mechanisms in parallel to conventional procurement autos to allow and incentivize the supply of vital next-generation expertise in underneath 5 years?

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here

We needed to provide our college students hands-on expertise on the way to deeply perceive an issue on the intersection of our nation’s diplomacy, info, its navy capabilities, financial energy, finance, intelligence, and legislation enforcement and dual-use expertise. First by having them develop hypotheses about the issue; subsequent by getting out of the classroom and speaking to related stakeholders throughout authorities, business, and academia to validate their assumptions; and eventually by taking what they discovered to suggest and prototype options to those issues.

Matt Kaplan: “The TIGPC class was a highlight of my academic experience at Stanford. Over the ten week quarter, I learned a tremendous amount about the importance of technology in global politics from the three professors and from the experts in government, business, and academia who came to speak. The class epitomizes some of the best parts of my time here: the opportunity to learn from incredible, caring faculty and to work with inspiring classmates. Joe, Steve, Raj instilled in my classmates and me a fresh sense of excitement to work in public service.”

 Team 4: Wargames

Original Problem Statement: The U.S. wants a method, given a consultant simulation, to quickly discover a method for potential novel makes use of of current platforms and weapons.

Final Problem Statement: Strategic wargames stand to learn from a stronger integration of AI+ML however are struggling to search out adoption and utilization. How can this be addressed?

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here

We need our college students to construct the reflexes and abilities to deeply perceive an issue by gathering first-hand info and validating that the issue they’re fixing is the actual downside, not a symptom of one thing else. Then, college students started quickly constructing minimal viable options (coverage, software program, {hardware} …) as a approach to take a look at and validate their understanding of each the issue and what it might take to resolve it.

Etienne Reche-Ley: “Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition gave me an opportunity to dive into a real world national security threat to the United States and understand the implications of it within the great power competition. Unlike any other class I have taken at Stanford, this class allowed me to take action on our problem about networks, censorship and the lack of free flow of information in authoritarian regimes, and gave me the chance to meet and learn from a multitude of experts on the topic. I finished this class with a deep understanding of our problem, a proposed actionable solution and a newfound interest in the intersection of technology and innovation as it applies to national defense. I am very grateful to have been part of this course, and it has inspired me to go a step further and pursue a career related to national security.”

Team 6: Disinformation

Original Problem Statement: Disinformation is a nationwide safety menace.

Final Problem Statement: The U.S.’s means to shut the disinformation response kill chain is hampered by an absence of coordination between U.S. authorities  companies,  no clear possession of the disinformation downside, and an absence of  clear pointers on public-private partnerships.

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here

One different objective of the category was to proceed to validate and refine our pedagogy of mixing a conventional lecture class with an experiential mission. We did this by tasking the scholars to 1) use what they discovered from the lectures and a pair of) then take a look at their assumptions exterior the classroom, the exterior enter they acquired could be a drive multiplier. It would make the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable. And we and they might find yourself with one thing fairly precious.

Shreyas Lakhtakia: “TIGPC is an interdisciplinary class like no other. It is a fabulous introduction to some of the most significant tech and geopolitical challenges and questions of the 21st century. The class, like the topics it covers, is incredible and ambitious – it’s a great way to level up your understanding of not just international policy, political theory and technology policy but also deep tech and the role of startups in projecting national power. If you’re curious about the future of the world and the role of the US in it, you won’t find a more unique course, a more dedicated teaching team or better speakers to hear from than this!”

Team 7: Quantum Technology

Original Problem Statement: China’s deliberate authorities funding in quantum dwarfs that of the U.S. by an element of 10.

Final Problem Statement: The US quantum ecosystem doesn’t generate sufficient consciousness of alternatives to pursue careers in quantum that would catalyze business progress.

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here

We knew we had been asking loads from our college students. We had been integrating a lecture class with a heavy studying listing with the most effective practices of speculation testing from Lean Launchpad/Hacking for Defense/I-Corps. But I’ve but to guess improper in pushing college students previous what they assume is cheap. Most rise method above the event.

 Team 9: Lithium-Ion Batteries

Original Problem Statement: Supply and manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is centered in China. How can the U.S. develop into aggressive?

Final Problem Statement: China controls the processing of vital supplies used for lithium-ion batteries. To regain management the DOE must incentivize brief and long-term methods to extend processing of vital supplies and reduce dependence on lithium-ion batteries.

If you may’t see the presentation click on right here

All of our college students put in extraordinary quantity of labor. Our college students got here from a various set of background and pursuits – from undergraduate sophomores to fifth yr PhD’s – in a combination together with worldwide coverage, economics, laptop science, enterprise, legislation and engineering. Some will go on to senior roles in State, Defense, coverage or different companies. Others will be a part of or discovered the businesses constructing new disruptive applied sciences. They’ll be those to find out what the world-order will seem like for the remainder of the century and past. Will or not it’s a rules-based order the place states cooperate to pursue a shared imaginative and prescient for a free and open area and the place the sovereignty of all nations massive and small is protected underneath worldwide legislation? Or will or not it’s an autocratic and dystopian future coerced and imposed by a neo-totalitarian regime?

This class modified the trajectory of lots of our college students. A quantity expressed newfound curiosity in exploring profession choices within the subject of nationwide safety. Several will probably be benefiting from alternatives offered by the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation to additional pursue their contribution to nationwide safety.

This course and our work at Stanford’s Gordian Knot Center wouldn’t be potential with out the unrelenting assist and steering from Ambassador Mike McFaul and Professor Riitta Katila, GKC founding college and Principal Investigators, and the tenacity of David Hoyt, Gordian Knot Center Assistant Director.

Lessons Learned

  • We mixed lecture and experiential studying so our college students can act on issues not simply admire them
    • The exterior enter the scholars acquired was a drive multiplier
    • It made the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable
    • Pushing college students previous what they assume is cheap ends in extraordinary output. Most rise method above the event
  • The class creates alternatives for our greatest and brightest to have interaction and handle challenges on the nexus of expertise, innovation and nationwide safety
    • The ultimate displays and papers from the category are proof that can occur


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