Steve Clean Expertise, Innovation, and Nice Energy Competitors  – 2022 Wrap Up

We simply wrapped up the second yr of our Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition class – now a part of our Stanford Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation.

Joe FelterRaj Shah and I designed the category to 1) give our college students an appreciation of the challenges and alternatives for the US in its enduring strategic competitors with the Individuals’s Republic of China, Russia and different rivals, and a couple of) supply insights on how business expertise (AI, machine studying, autonomy, cyber, quantum, semiconductors, entry to area, 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 grew to become a centerpiece of the 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy. The 2021 Interim National Security Guidance and the administration’s lately launched 2022 National Security Strategy clarify that China has quickly develop into extra assertive and is the one competitor doubtlessly able to combining its financial, diplomatic, army, and technological energy to mount a sustained problem to a steady and open worldwide system. And as we’ve seen within the Ukraine, Russia stays decided to wage a brutal conflict to play a disruptive function on the world stage.

Prevailing on this competitors would require greater than merely buying the fruits of this technological revolution; it should require a paradigm shift within the considering of how this expertise could be quickly built-in into new capabilities and platforms to drive new operational and organizational ideas and techniques that change and optimize the way in which we compete.

Class Group
The readings, lectures, and visitor audio system explored how rising business applied sciences pose challenges and create alternatives for the US 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 companies, 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 International Policy – complete readings, visitor lectures from present and former senior officers/consultants, and written papers. What makes the category distinctive nonetheless, is that that is an experiential coverage class. College students fashioned small groups and launched into a quarter-long venture that bought them out of the classroom to 1) determine a precedence nationwide safety problem, after which to 2) validate the issue and suggest an in depth answer examined in opposition to precise stakeholders within the expertise and nationwide safety ecosystem.

The category was cut up into three elements. 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 business applied sciences: semiconductors, area, cyber, AI and Machine Studying, Excessive Efficiency Computing, and Biotech. In between elements 1 and a couple of of the category, the scholars had a midterm particular person venture. It required them to jot down a 2,000-word coverage memo describing how a U.S. competitor is utilizing a selected expertise 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 Expertise and Nationwide Safety on the National Security Council.)

Every week the scholars needed to learn 5-10 articles (see class readings here.) And every week we had visitor audio system on nice energy competitors, and expertise and its influence on nationwide energy and lectures/class dialogue.

Visitor Audio system
Along with the educating crew, the course drew on the expertise and experience of visitor lecturers from business and from throughout U.S. Authorities companies to offer context and perspective on business 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 crew lectures adopted by audio system that led discussions on the important business applied sciences. For semiconductors, the White Home Coordinator for the CHIPS Act – Ronnie Chatterji, and the CTO of Applied Materials – Om Nalamasu. For business tech integration and area, former Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Director Mike Brown and B. Common Bucky Butow – Director of the House Portfolio. For Synthetic Intelligence, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Jack Shanahan, former director of the Joint Synthetic Intelligence Heart. And for artificial biology Stanford Professor Drew Endy – President, BioBricks Foundation.

Crew-based Experiential Venture
The third a part of the category was distinctive – a quarter-long, team-based venture. College students fashioned groups and developed hypotheses of how business applied sciences can be utilized in new and artistic methods to assist the U.S. wield its devices of nationwide energy. And in line with all our Gordian Knot Center courses, they bought 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 Discovered” 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 way more attention-grabbing.

Crew 1: Local weather Change

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

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

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

We knew that these college students might write a terrific analysis paper. As we identified to them, when you could be the neatest individual 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: “Expertise, 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 produce college students up the educational 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, delivered to life by wealthy dialogue and an unbelievable slate of practitioners who reside and breathe the content material of TIGPC each day. Past the classroom, the course plunges college students into getting “out of the constructing” to iterate rapidly whereas translating learnings to the actual world. Alongside the way in which the course acts as a robust name to public service.”

Crew 2: Networks

Authentic Drawback Assertion: How would possibly we implement a ubiquitous safe world entry to the web so as to assist circumvent censorship in authoritarian regimes?

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

In the event you can’t see the presentation click on here

By week 2 of the category college students fashioned 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.


Jason KimThis course doesn’t simply talk about U.S. nationwide safety points. It teaches college students the way to apply an influential and confirmed methodology to quickly develop options to our most difficult issues.”


Crew 3: Acquisition

Authentic 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?

Ultimate Drawback Assertion: How can the U.S. Division of Protection deploy various funding mechanisms in parallel to conventional procurement automobiles to allow and incentivize the supply of important next-generation expertise in beneath 5 years?

In the event you can’t see the presentation click on here

We needed to present our college students hands-on expertise on the way 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 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.


Matt Kaplan: “The TIGPC class was a spotlight of my educational expertise at Stanford. Over the ten week quarter, I discovered an incredible quantity in regards to the significance of expertise in world politics from the three professors and from the consultants in authorities, enterprise, and academia who got here to talk. The category epitomizes among the finest elements of my time right here: the chance to be taught from unbelievable, caring school and to work with inspiring classmates. Joe, Steve, Raj instilled in my classmates and me a contemporary sense of pleasure to work in public service.”


 Crew 4: Wargames

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

Ultimate Drawback Assertion: Strategic wargames stand to profit from a stronger integration of AI+ML however are struggling to search out adoption and utilization. How can this be addressed?

In the event you can’t see the presentation click on 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 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: “Expertise, Innovation and Nice Energy Competitors gave me a chance to dive into an actual world nationwide safety risk to the US and perceive the implications of it inside the nice energy competitors. Not like another class I’ve taken at Stanford, this class allowed me to take motion on our downside about networks, censorship and the dearth of free circulation of data in authoritarian regimes, and gave me the possibility to satisfy and be taught from a mess 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 expertise 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.”


Crew 6: Disinformation

Authentic Drawback Assertion: Disinformation is a nationwide safety risk.

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

In the event you can’t see the presentation click on 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 venture. 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 acquired could be a pressure multiplier. It might make the lecture materials actual, tangible and actionable. And we and they’d find yourself with one thing fairly useful.


Shreyas Lakhtakia: “TIGPC is an interdisciplinary class like no different. It’s a fabulous introduction to among the most important tech and geopolitical challenges and questions of the twenty first century. The category, just like the matters it covers, is unbelievable and impressive – it’s a good way to degree up your understanding of not simply worldwide coverage, political idea and expertise coverage but additionally deep tech and the function of startups in projecting nationwide energy. In the event you’re interested in the way forward for the world and the function of the US in it, you received’t discover a extra distinctive course, a extra devoted educating crew or higher audio system to listen to from than this!”


Crew 7: Quantum Expertise

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

Ultimate Drawback Assertion: The US quantum ecosystem doesn’t generate sufficient consciousness of alternatives to pursue careers in quantum that might catalyze business development.

In the event you can’t see the presentation click on here

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


 Crew 9: Lithium-Ion Batteries

Authentic Drawback Assertion: Provide and manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is centered in China. How can the U.S. develop into aggressive?

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

In the event you can’t see the presentation click on 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, pc science, enterprise, legislation and engineering. Some will go on to senior roles in State, Protection, coverage or different companies. Others will be a part of or discovered the businesses constructing new disruptive applied sciences. They’ll be those 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 legislation? Or will 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 discipline of nationwide safety. A number of will likely be making the most of alternatives offered by the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation to additional pursue their contribution to nationwide safety.

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

Classes Discovered

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