Steve Clean Know-how, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors  – 2022 Wrap Up


We simply wrapped up the second yr of our Know-how, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors class – now a part of our Stanford Gordian Knot Middle for Nationwide Safety Innovation.

Joe FelterRaj Shah and I designed the category to 1) give our college students an appreciation of the challenges and alternatives for america in its enduring strategic competitors with the Individuals’s Republic of China, Russia and different rivals, and a couple of) provide insights on how industrial know-how (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, army, 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 Nationwide Safety Technique and 2018 Nationwide Protection Technique. The 2021 Interim Nationwide Safety Steering and the administration’s just lately launched 2022 Nationwide Safety Technique clarify that China has quickly turn out to be extra assertive and is the one competitor probably able to combining its financial, diplomatic, army, and technological energy to mount a sustained problem to a secure and open worldwide system. And as we’ve seen within the Ukraine, Russia stays decided to wage a brutal conflict to play a disruptive position 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 know-how could be quickly built-in into new capabilities and platforms to drive new operational and organizational ideas and techniques that change and optimize the best way we compete.

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

This course included all that you’d anticipate from a Stanford graduate-level class within the Masters in Worldwide Coverage – complete readings, visitor lectures from present and former senior officers/consultants, and written papers. What makes the category distinctive nevertheless, is that that is an experiential coverage class. College students shaped small groups and launched into a quarter-long mission that acquired them out of the classroom to 1) establish a precedence nationwide safety problem, after which to 2) validate the issue and suggest an in depth answer examined towards precise stakeholders within the know-how and nationwide safety ecosystem.

The category was break up into three components. Half 1, weeks 1 by 4 lined worldwide relations theories, methods and insurance policies round Nice Energy Competitors particularly centered on the Individuals’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Communist Peoples Celebration (CCP). Half 2, weeks 5 by 8, dove into the industrial applied sciences: semiconductors, house, cyber, AI and Machine Studying, Excessive Efficiency Computing, and Biotech. In between components 1 and a couple of of the category, the scholars had a midterm particular person mission. It required them to put in writing a 2,000-word coverage memo describing how a U.S. competitor is utilizing a selected know-how to counter U.S. pursuits and a proposal for the way the U.S. ought to reply. (These coverage memos have been reviewed by Tarun Chhabra, the Senior Director for Know-how and Nationwide Safety on the Nationwide Safety Council.)

Every 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 know-how and its influence on nationwide energy and lectures/class dialogue.

Visitor Audio system
Along with the educating staff, the course drew on the expertise and experience of visitor lecturers from trade and from throughout U.S. Authorities businesses 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 Protection 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.

Within the weeks in-between we had educating staff lectures adopted by audio system that led discussions on the important industrial applied sciences. For semiconductors, the White Home Coordinator for the CHIPS Act – Ronnie Chatterji, and the CTO of Utilized Supplies – Om Nalamasu. For industrial tech integration and house, former Protection Innovation Unit (DIU) Director Mike Brown and B. Basic Bucky Butow – Director of the Area Portfolio. For Synthetic Intelligence, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Jack Shanahan, former director of the Joint Synthetic Intelligence Middle. And for artificial biology Stanford Professor Drew Endy – President, BioBricks Basis.

Staff-based Experiential Mission
The third a part of the category was distinctive – a quarter-long, team-based mission. College students shaped groups and 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. And per all our Gordian Knot Middle lessons, 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 remaining “Classes Realized” 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 they’d chosen had morphed into one thing larger, deeper, and rather more fascinating.

Staff 1: Local weather Change

Unique Drawback Assertion: What combos of applied sciences and worldwide monetary relationships ought to the US prioritize to mitigate local weather change?

Closing Drawback Assertion: How ought to the US handle China’s dominance in photo voltaic panels?

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

We knew that these college students might write an amazing analysis paper. As we identified to them, whilst you could be the neatest particular person within the constructing, it’s unlikely that 1) all of the information are within the constructing, 2) you’re smarter than the collective intelligence sitting outdoors the constructing.

Jonah Cader: “Know-how, Innovation and Nice Energy Competitors (TIGPC) is that uncommon mixture of the theoretical, tactical, and sensible. Over 10 weeks, Clean, Felter, and Shah define the complexities of contemporary geopolitical tensions and convey college students up the training curves of important areas of technological competitors, from semiconductors to synthetic intelligence. Every week of the seminar is a crash course in a brand new area, dropped at life by wealthy dialogue and an unimaginable slate of practitioners who stay and breathe the content material of TIGPC every day. Past the classroom, the course plunges college students into getting “out of the constructing” to iterate shortly whereas translating learnings to the actual world. Alongside the best way the course acts as a powerful name to public service.”

Staff 2: Networks

Unique Drawback Assertion: How may we implement a ubiquitous safe world entry to the web with a view to assist circumvent censorship in authoritarian regimes?

 Closing Drawback Assertion: How can we create an open, free Web and preserve efficient strains of communication in Taiwan in preparation for a possible invasion?

When you can’t see the presentation click on right here

By week 2 of the category college students shaped groups round a selected know-how 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.


Jason KimThis course doesn’t simply focus on U.S. nationwide safety points. It teaches college students find out how to apply an influential and confirmed methodology to quickly develop options to our most difficult issues.”


Staff 3: Acquisition

Unique Drawback Assertion: How can the U.S. Division of Protection match or beat the velocity of nice energy opponents in buying and integrating important applied sciences?

Closing Drawback Assertion: How can the U.S. Division of Protection deploy different funding mechanisms in parallel to conventional procurement automobiles to allow and incentivize the supply of important next-generation know-how in underneath 5 years?

When you can’t see the presentation click on right here

We needed to provide our college students hands-on expertise on find out how to deeply perceive an issue on the intersection of our nation’s diplomacy, data, its army capabilities, financial energy, finance, intelligence, and legislation enforcement and dual-use know-how. 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 at last by taking what they discovered to suggest and prototype options to those issues.


Matt Kaplan: “The TIGPC class was a spotlight of my tutorial expertise at Stanford. Over the ten week quarter, I discovered an incredible quantity concerning the significance of know-how in world politics from the three professors and from the consultants in authorities, enterprise, and academia who got here to talk. The category epitomizes a number of the finest components of my time right here: the chance to study from unimaginable, caring college and to work with inspiring classmates. Joe, Steve, Raj instilled in my classmates and me a recent sense of pleasure to work in public service.”


 Staff 4: Wargames

Unique Drawback Assertion: The U.S. wants a means, given a consultant simulation, to quickly discover a technique for doable novel makes use of of present platforms and weapons.

Closing Drawback Assertion: 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?

When you can’t see the presentation click on right here

We wish 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 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 will take to resolve it.


Etienne Reche-Ley: “Know-how, Innovation and Nice Energy Competitors gave me a possibility to dive into an actual world nationwide safety risk to america and perceive the implications of it throughout the nice energy competitors. Not like some other class I’ve taken at Stanford, this class allowed me to take motion on our downside about networks, censorship and the shortage of free stream of knowledge in authoritarian regimes, and gave me the possibility to satisfy and study from a large number of consultants on the subject. I completed this class with a deep understanding of our downside, a proposed actionable answer and a newfound curiosity within the intersection of know-how and innovation because it applies to nationwide protection. I’m very grateful to have been a part of this course, and it has impressed me to go a step additional and pursue a profession associated to nationwide safety.”


Staff 6: Disinformation

Unique Drawback Assertion: Disinformation is a nationwide safety risk.

Closing Drawback Assertion: The U.S.’s capability to shut the disinformation response kill chain is hampered by a scarcity of coordination between U.S. authorities  businesses,  no clear possession of the disinformation downside, and a scarcity of  clear pointers on public-private partnerships.

When you can’t see the presentation click on right here

One different aim 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 couple of) then take a look at their assumptions outdoors the classroom, the exterior enter they obtained can be a power multiplier. It will make the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable. And we and they’d find yourself with one thing fairly beneficial.


Shreyas Lakhtakia: “TIGPC is an interdisciplinary class like no different. It’s a fabulous introduction to a number of the most vital tech and geopolitical challenges and questions of the twenty first century. The category, just like the matters it covers, is unimaginable and bold – it’s an effective way to degree up your understanding of not simply worldwide coverage, political idea and know-how coverage but in addition deep tech and the position of startups in projecting nationwide energy. When you’re interested in the way forward for the world and the position of the US in it, you gained’t discover a extra distinctive course, a extra devoted educating staff or higher audio system to listen to from than this!”


Staff 7: Quantum Know-how

Unique Drawback Assertion: China’s deliberate authorities funding in quantum dwarfs that of the U.S. by an element of 10.

Closing Drawback Assertion: The US quantum ecosystem doesn’t generate sufficient consciousness of alternatives to pursue careers in quantum that would catalyze trade progress.

When you can’t see the presentation click on right here

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


 Staff 9: Lithium-Ion Batteries

Unique Drawback Assertion: Provide and manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is centered in China. How can the U.S. turn out to be aggressive?

Closing Drawback Assertion: China controls the processing of important supplies used for lithium-ion batteries. To regain management the DOE must incentivize quick and long-term methods to extend processing of important supplies and reduce dependence on lithium-ion batteries.

When you can’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, Protection, coverage or different businesses. Others will be 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 giant 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. A number of will likely be making the most of alternatives supplied by the Gordian Knot Middle for Nationwide Safety Innovation to additional pursue their contribution to nationwide safety.

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

Classes Realized

  • We mixed lecture and experiential studying so our college students can act on issues not simply admire them
    • The exterior enter the scholars obtained was a power multiplier
    • It made the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable
    • Pushing college students previous what they assume is cheap leads to extraordinary output. Most rise means above the event
  • The category creates alternatives for our greatest and brightest to have interaction and deal with challenges on the nexus of know-how, innovation and nationwide safety
    • The ultimate shows and papers from the category are proof that can occur



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