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

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


This text first appeared in West Level’s Trendy Warfare 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 Lessons 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 undertaking – 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 undertaking. 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 received 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 they’d chosen had morphed into one thing greater, deeper and way more attention-grabbing.

Group Military Enterprise Capital

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

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

In case you can’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 may 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 exterior the constructing.

Group Conflicted Capital

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

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

In case you can’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 by new operational ideas, organizations, and/or methods.

Group Aurora

Unique 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 towards CCP crackdowns, as a way to strain the PRC, unfold American liberal values, and uphold U.S. freedom of motion within the info area?

Closing Downside Assertion: How does the USG leverage a soft-power info marketing campaign to assist Hong Kong residents’ proper to self-determination and democratic governance with out putting people at undue danger (of prosecution as overseas brokers underneath the Nationwide Safety Regulation)?

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

We needed to present our college students hands-on expertise on learn how to deeply perceive an issue on the intersection of our nation’s diplomacy, info, its navy capabilities, financial power, 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 eventually by taking what they discovered to suggest and prototype options to those issues.

Group ShortCircuit

Unique 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.

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

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

We wish our college students to construct the reflexes and expertise to deeply perceive an issue by gathering first-hand info 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 might take to resolve it.

Group Drone

Unique 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.

Closing Downside Assertion: Taiwan wants a strong and survivable command and management system to successfully and shortly deliver the appropriate asset to the appropriate 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 educating staff 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 discovered from the lectures and a pair of) then check their assumptions exterior the classroom, the exterior enter they acquired can 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 beneficial.

Group Apollo

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

Closing Downside Assertion: The US Area Power lacks the provision chain and speedy launch capabilities wanted to reply to contingencies in area. The non-public sector possesses these capabilities, however is just not being adequately leveraged or incentivized.

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

We knew we have been asking lots from our college students. We have been integrating a lecture class with a heavy studying checklist 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 manner above the event.

Given this was the primary time we taught built-in lectures and tasks our pupil 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 number of pupil quotes:

“This can be a MUST TAKE [caps theirs]. The professors and educating staff 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 high notch and the studying materials was well timed, attention-grabbing, and related. Anybody who’s taken with geopolitics and expertise innovation must take this course. Not solely that, however every week includes a totally different visitor speaker that’s often 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 unbelievable individuals.”


Group Catena

Unique 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.

Closing Downside Assertion: CCP’s financial coercion makes nations similar to Australia depending on China’s economic system and weak to the get together’s will. The U.S. should analyze which key Australian industries are most threatened and decide viable various buying and selling companions.

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


A number of extra pupil quotes:

“That is hands-down probably the greatest programs I’ve taken at Stanford. From the second I walked into the door, I used to be surprised 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, every little thing was well-organized, and our staff was all the time supported with a wealth of sources and entry we wanted to get our coverage deliverables to, alongside a wholesome dose of near-constant suggestions and encouragement from the educating staff. Readings have been partaking and insightful, and the visitor checklist 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 desires you to develop as a pupil but additionally train them what you’re studying.

Beware Steve Clean- he may 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 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 last presentation- the JCOS could 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 obligatory vs elective
    • Make clear particulars, flows and aims for every class

    • Tie audio system to tasks / 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 to be 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 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 a lot of our college students. A quantity expressed newfound curiosity in exploring profession choices within the subject of nationwide safety. A number of will probably be benefiting from alternatives supplied by the Gordian Knot Heart for Nationwide Safety Innovation to additional pursue their contribution to nationwide safety.

Classes Discovered

  • 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 exterior the classroom, the exterior enter they acquired 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 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 larger alternatives for our greatest and brightest to have interaction 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 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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