Steve Clean Expertise, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors  – Wrap Up


This text first appeared in West Level’s Trendy Battle Institute.

We simply had our closing session of our Expertise, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors class. Joe FelterRaj Shah and I designed the category to provide our college students insights on how industrial expertise (AI, machine studying, autonomy, cyber, quantum, semiconductors, entry to area, biotech, hypersonics, and others) will form how we make use of all the weather of nationwide energy (our affect and footprint on the world stage).

(Meet up with the category by studying our intro to the category, and summaries of Courses 1234, 5 6, 7 and 8.)

This class has 4 elements that have been like most lecture courses in worldwide coverage:

  • Weekly Readings – 5-10 articles/week
  • 20+ visitor audio system on expertise and its influence on nationwide energy – prior secretaries of protection and state, present and prior Nationwide Safety council members, four-star generals who lead service branches
  • Lectures/Class dialogue
  • Midterm particular person venture – a 2,000-word coverage memo that describes how a U.S. competitor is utilizing a particular expertise to counter U.S. pursuits and a proposal how the U.S. ought to reply

The fifth a part of the category was distinctive.

  • 1 / 4-long, team-based closing venture. College students developed hypotheses of how industrial applied sciences can be utilized in new and artistic methods to assist the U.S. wield its devices of nationwide energy. After which they obtained out of the classroom and interviewed 20+ beneficiaries, coverage makers, and different key stakeholders testing their hypotheses and proposed options.

On the finish of the quarter, every of the groups gave a closing “Classes Realized” presentation with a follow-up a 3,000 to five,000-word team-written paper.

By the tip the category all of the groups realized that the issue they’d chosen had morphed into one thing larger, deeper and far more attention-grabbing.

Group Military Enterprise Capital

Authentic downside assertion: the U.S. must reevaluate and enhance its public enterprise capital relationship with firms with dual-use applied sciences.

Last downside assertion: the DoD must reevaluate and enhance its funding methods and partnerships with dual-use mid-stage non-public firms.

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here.

We knew that these college students might write a fantastic analysis paper. As we identified to them, when you will be the neatest particular person 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 outdoors the constructing.

Group Conflicted Capital

Authentic downside assertion: Chinese language funding in US startups with essential applied sciences poses a menace to US navy capabilities, however the lack of transparency in enterprise capital makes it difficult to trace them.

Last downside assertion: Chinese language adversarial enterprise capital investments in U.S. dual-use startups proceed to threaten US navy capabilities throughout essential applied sciences, however the scope of the issue is comparatively small. VCs and entrepreneurs can play a job in addressing the problem by shunning recognized sources of adversarial capital.

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here.

By week 2 of the category college students fashioned groups round a particular 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 by way of new operational ideas, organizations, and/or methods.

Group Aurora

Authentic Downside Assertion: How can the U.S. make use of its cyber capabilities to offer the populace of China with unrestricted Web entry to bolster civil society in opposition to CCP crackdowns, with a view to stress the PRC, unfold American liberal values, and uphold U.S. freedom of motion within the data area?

Last Downside Assertion: How does the USG leverage a soft-power data marketing campaign to assist Hong Kong residents’ proper to self-determination and democratic governance with out inserting people at undue danger (of prosecution as international brokers below the Nationwide Safety Legislation)?

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here.

We needed to provide our college students hands-on expertise on the right way to deeply perceive an issue on the intersection of our nation’s diplomacy, data, its navy capabilities, financial energy, finance, intelligence, and regulation 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, trade, and academia to validate their assumptions; and eventually by taking what they realized to suggest and prototype options to those issues.

Group ShortCircuit

Authentic Downside Assertion: U.S. semiconductor procurement is closely depending on TSMC, which creates a considerable vulnerability within the occasion a PRC invasion of Taiwan, or different kinetic disruptions within the Indo-Pacific.

Last Downside Assertion: How ought to the U.S. Authorities increase the home semiconductor workforce by way of schooling and innovation initiatives to extend its semiconductor sector competitiveness?

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here. 

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

Group Drone

Authentic Downside Assertion: Drones can be utilized as a shock aspect in an amphibious assault to overwhelm defenses. In a possible Taiwan Strait Disaster, there’s a want for a low-cost and survivable counter-drone system to defend Taiwan.

Last Downside Assertion: Taiwan wants a sturdy and survivable command and management system to successfully and rapidly carry the suitable asset to the suitable place on the proper time throughout an invasion.

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here.

One different purpose of the category was testing a instructing workforce speculation – that we might flip a lecture class into one which gave again extra in output than we put in. That by tasking the scholars to 1) use what they realized from the lectures and a pair of) then check their assumptions outdoors the classroom, the exterior enter they obtained can be a drive multiplier. It will make the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable. And we and they’d find yourself with one thing fairly precious.

Group Apollo

Authentic Downside Assertion: The Area Drive should leverage industrial innovation and set up a skilled, skilled acquisition workforce that can ship innovation influence that the Area Drive requires.

Last Downside Assertion: The USA Area Drive lacks the provision chain and fast launch capabilities wanted to reply to contingencies in area. The non-public sector possesses these capabilities, however shouldn’t be being adequately leveraged or incentivized.

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here. 

We knew we have been asking rather a lot from our college students. We have been integrating a lecture class with a heavy studying record with the very best practices of speculation testing from Lean Launchpad/Hacking for Protection/I-Corps. However I’ve but to wager unsuitable in pushing college students previous what they assume is cheap. Most rise manner above the event.

Given this was the primary time we taught built-in lectures and initiatives our pupil opinions ranged from the “we should have paid them to jot down this” to “did they take the identical class as everybody else?” (Really it was, let’s repair the legitimate points they raised.)

A number of pupil quotes:

“It is a MUST TAKE [caps theirs]. The professors and instructing workforce are second to none, and the visitor audio system are actually wonderful. This course is difficult, however you actually get out of it what you place into it, and you’ll study a lot essential and attention-grabbing materials.”

“THIS IS A FANTASTIC COURSE! [caps theirs]. The fabric was glorious, the instruction from legendary professions was prime notch and the studying materials was well timed, attention-grabbing, and related. Anybody who’s involved in geopolitics and expertise innovation must take this course. Not solely that, however every week encompasses a completely different visitor speaker that’s often from the very best ranges of US authorities and is THE professional within the topic for that week’s course. Actually wonderful expertise attending to hearken to and have Q&A with such unbelievable individuals.”

Group Catena

Authentic Downside Assertion: China’s cryptocurrency ban presents the U.S. with a chance to affect blockchain growth, entice technical expertise, and leverage digital asset expertise.

Last Downside Assertion: CCP’s financial coercion makes international locations resembling Australia depending on China’s economic system and susceptible to the social gathering’s will. The U.S. should analyze which key Australian industries are most threatened and decide viable different buying and selling companions.

If you happen to can’t see the presentation click on right here.

A number of extra pupil quotes:

“That is hands-down among the best programs I’ve taken at Stanford. From the second I walked into the door, I used to be shocked by each the caliber of individuals you’re sharing oxygen with in that room, and the way welcoming and accessible they’re. Regardless of it being the primary providing of this course, all the things was well-organized, and our workforce was at all times supported with a wealth of assets and entry we would have liked to get our coverage deliverables to, alongside a wholesome dose of near-constant suggestions and encouragement from the instructing workforce. Readings have been participating and insightful, and the visitor record we had was merely unbelievable- Mattis, McFaul, Rice, Pottinger, amongst a number of others within the White Home, Pentagon, and past. There’s an actual feeling that everybody who labored on this course needs you to develop as a pupil but additionally educate them what you’re studying.

Beware Steve Clean- he will be harsh and aggressive however exemplifies the ‘impolite however life-saving physician’ trope. I’ve realized extra from responding to a single Clean cold-question in lecture than from three whole quarters of utilized math at Stanford. Be sure you get began early in your teamwork and speak to the lecturers as a lot as you can- this actually is a ‘you get as a lot as you give’ course, and the very best returns are available by being tenacious, loud, and unabashed in your questioning.
And, for God’s sake, don’t draw cartoons in your closing presentation- the JCOS may be watching.

“DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE! This class is an entire waste of time.“

“This was the worst class I took at Stanford “

Whereas the constructive suggestions accolades for the category have been rewarding, a number of feedback recognized areas we are able to enhance:

  • Letting the scholars know upfront the workload and distinctive format of the category
  • Higher group and timing
    • Readings: be a lot clearer on which of them are obligatory vs elective
    • Make clear particulars, flows and targets for every class

    • Tie audio system to initiatives / pupil shows

  • Make weekly workplace hours obligatory to make sure all college students obtain common professor/pupil interplay, suggestions and steering from week 1

All of our college students put in extraordinary quantity of labor. Our college students, a combination between worldwide coverage and engineering, will go off to senior roles in State, Protection, coverage and to the businesses constructing new disruptive applied sciences. They would be the ones to find out what the world-order will appear 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 international locations massive and small is protected below worldwide regulation? 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 discipline of nationwide safety. A number of will probably be making the most of alternatives supplied by the Gordian Knot Middle for Nationwide Safety Innovation to additional pursue their contribution to nationwide safety.

Classes Realized

  • We might flip a lecture class into one which gave again extra in output than we put in.
  • Tasking the scholars to check their assumptions outdoors the classroom, the exterior enter they obtained 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 manner above the event
  • The output of the category satisfied us that the work of scholars like these might materially add to the protection and safety of the free world
  • It’s a nationwide safety crucial to create better alternatives for our greatest and brightest to interact and deal with challenges on the nexus of expertise, innovation and nationwide safety

Observe: Impressed by our expertise with this course, we determined to extend the main focus of Stanford’s Gordian Knot Middle for Nationwide Safety Innovation on creating and empowering the extraordinary and largely untapped potential of scholars throughout the college and past.


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