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

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This text first appeared in West Level’s Fashionable Struggle 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 offer our college students insights on how industrial know-how (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 components that have been like most lecture courses in worldwide coverage:

  • Weekly Readings – 5-10 articles/week
  • 20+ visitor audio system on know-how and its impression 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 mission – a 2,000-word coverage memo that describes how a U.S. competitor is utilizing a selected know-how 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 mission. 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 Discovered” presentation with a follow-up a 3,000 to five,000-word team-written paper.

By the top 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.

Staff Military Enterprise Capital

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

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

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

We knew that these college students may write an incredible analysis paper. As we identified to them, whilst you could be the neatest individual within the constructing, it’s unlikely that 1) all of the details are within the constructing, 2) you’re smarter than the collective intelligence sitting exterior the constructing.

Staff Conflicted Capital

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

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

Should 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 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 by means of new operational ideas, organizations, and/or methods.

Staff 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 towards CCP crackdowns, in an effort to stress the PRC, unfold American liberal values, and uphold U.S. freedom of motion within the info area?

Remaining 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 threat (of prosecution as overseas brokers below the Nationwide Safety Legislation)?

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

We wished to offer our college students hands-on expertise on tips on how to deeply perceive an issue on the intersection of our nation’s diplomacy, info, its army capabilities, financial power, finance, intelligence, and regulation 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 eventually by taking what they realized to suggest and prototype options to those issues.

Staff 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.

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

Should 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 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 option to take a look at and validate their understanding of each the issue and what it will take to resolve it.

Staff 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.

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

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

One different aim of the category was testing a instructing staff 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 realized from the lectures and a couple of) then take a look at their assumptions exterior the classroom, the exterior enter they acquired can be a pressure multiplier. It could make the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable. And we and they’d find yourself with one thing fairly priceless.

Staff Apollo

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

Remaining Downside Assertion: The USA Area Pressure lacks the provision chain and speedy launch capabilities wanted to answer contingencies in area. The non-public sector possesses these capabilities, however will not be being adequately leveraged or incentivized.

Should 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 listing with the very best practices of speculation testing from Lean Launchpad/Hacking for Protection/I-Corps. However I’ve but to guess mistaken in pushing college students previous what they assume is affordable. Most rise method above the event.

Given this was the primary time we taught built-in lectures and tasks our scholar evaluations ranged from the “we will need to have paid them to write down this” to “did they take the identical class as everybody else?” (Truly it was, let’s repair the legitimate points they raised.)


Just a few scholar quotes:

“It is a MUST TAKE [caps theirs]. The professors and instructing staff are second to none, and the visitor audio system are actually superb. This course is difficult, however you actually 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 high notch and the studying materials was well timed, fascinating, and related. Anybody who’s excited about geopolitics and know-how innovation must take this course. Not solely that, however every week includes a completely different visitor speaker that’s often from the best ranges of US authorities and is THE professional within the topic for that week’s course. Actually superb expertise attending to hearken to and have Q&A with such unimaginable individuals.”


Staff Catena

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

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

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


Just a few extra scholar 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 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 assets and entry we wanted to get our coverage deliverables to, alongside a wholesome dose of near-constant suggestions and encouragement from the instructing staff. Readings have been participating and insightful, and the visitor listing 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 scholar but in addition train them what you’re studying.

Beware Steve Clean- he could 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 total quarters of utilized math at Stanford. You’ll want 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 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 is perhaps 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 will 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 goals 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 steerage 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 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 giant and small is protected below 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 subject of nationwide safety. A number of will likely be benefiting 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 exterior the classroom, the exterior enter they acquired was a pressure multiplier
    • It made the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable
  • Pushing college students previous what they assume is affordable ends in extraordinary output. Most rise method above the event
  • The output of the category satisfied us that the work of scholars like these may materially add to the security and safety of the free world
  • It’s a nationwide safety crucial to create higher alternatives for our greatest and brightest to have interaction and handle challenges on the nexus of know-how, innovation and nationwide safety

Be aware: 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 creating and empowering the extraordinary and largely untapped potential of scholars throughout the college and past.





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