Saturday, March 2, 2024

Steve Clean Know-how, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors  – Wrap Up


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

We simply had our last session of our Know-how, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors class. Joe FelterRaj Shah and I designed the category to present 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 lessons 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 selected 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 last venture. College students 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. After which they acquired 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 last “Classes Discovered” 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 that they had chosen had morphed into one thing larger, deeper and rather more fascinating.

Group Military Enterprise Capital

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

Remaining drawback assertion: the DoD must reevaluate and enhance its funding methods and partnerships with dual-use mid-stage personal firms.

In case you can’t see the presentation click on right here.

We knew that these college students may write an ideal 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

Unique drawback assertion: Chinese language funding in US startups with important applied sciences poses a menace to US army capabilities, however the lack of transparency in enterprise capital makes it difficult to trace them.

Remaining drawback assertion: Chinese language adversarial enterprise capital investments in U.S. dual-use startups proceed to threaten US army capabilities throughout important 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.

In case you can’t see the presentation click on right here.

By week 2 of the category college students fashioned groups round a selected expertise problem going through 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.

Group Aurora

Unique Drawback Assertion: How can the U.S. make use of its cyber capabilities to supply the populace of China with unrestricted Web entry to bolster civil society towards CCP crackdowns, as a way to strain the PRC, unfold American liberal values, and uphold U.S. freedom of motion within the data area?

Remaining Drawback 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 putting people at undue threat (of prosecution as international brokers beneath the Nationwide Safety Legislation)?

In case you can’t see the presentation click on right here.

We needed to present our college students hands-on expertise on easy methods to deeply perceive an issue on the intersection of our nation’s diplomacy, data, its army 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, business, and academia to validate their assumptions; and at last by taking what they discovered to suggest and prototype options to those issues.

Group ShortCircuit

Unique Drawback 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.

Remaining Drawback Assertion: How ought to the U.S. Authorities increase the home semiconductor workforce via schooling and innovation initiatives to extend its semiconductor sector competitiveness?

In case you can’t see the presentation click on right here. 

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

Group Drone

Unique Drawback Assertion: Drones can be utilized as a shock component 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.

Remaining Drawback Assertion: Taiwan wants a strong and survivable command and management system to successfully and shortly convey the suitable asset to the suitable place on the proper time throughout an invasion.

In case you can’t see the presentation click on right here.

One different aim of the category was testing a instructing crew speculation – that we may 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 discovered from the lectures and a pair of) then check their assumptions outdoors the classroom, the exterior enter they obtained could be a power multiplier. It will make the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable. And we and they might find yourself with one thing fairly invaluable.

Group Apollo

Unique Drawback Assertion: The Area Pressure should leverage industrial innovation and set up a skilled, skilled acquisition workforce that may ship innovation influence that the Area Pressure requires.

Remaining Drawback Assertion: The US Area Pressure lacks the availability chain and fast launch capabilities wanted to answer contingencies in area. The personal sector possesses these capabilities, however shouldn’t be being adequately leveraged or incentivized.

In case you 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 perfect practices of speculation testing from Lean Launchpad/Hacking for Protection/I-Corps. However I’ve but to wager fallacious in pushing college students previous what they suppose is affordable. Most rise approach above the event.

Given this was the primary time we taught built-in lectures and tasks our scholar critiques ranged from the “we will need to 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 couple of scholar quotes:

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

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


Group Catena

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

Remaining Drawback Assertion: CCP’s financial coercion makes nations resembling Australia depending on China’s economic system and weak 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.

In case you can’t see the presentation click on right here.


A couple of extra scholar quotes:

“That is hands-down top-of-the-line 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 pieces was well-organized, and our crew 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 crew. 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 scholar but in addition train 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 discovered extra from responding to a single Clean cold-question in lecture than from three whole quarters of utilized math at Stanford. Remember to get began early in your teamwork and discuss 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 last 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 optimistic 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 necessary vs elective
    • Make clear particulars, flows and aims for every class

    • Tie audio system to tasks / scholar shows

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

All of our college students put in extraordinary quantity of labor. Our college students, a mixture 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 to be for the remainder of the century and past. Will 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 beneath worldwide regulation? Or will 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 likely be profiting from alternatives offered by the Gordian Knot Heart for Nationwide Safety Innovation to additional pursue their contribution to nationwide safety.

Classes Discovered

  • We may 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 power multiplier
    • It made the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable
  • Pushing college students previous what they suppose is affordable leads to extraordinary output. Most rise approach above the event
  • The output of the category satisfied us that the work of scholars like these may materially add to the protection and safety of the free world
  • It’s a nationwide safety crucial to create higher alternatives for our greatest and brightest to interact and deal with challenges on the nexus of expertise, innovation and nationwide safety

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



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