Director of the Hoover Institution, Condoleezza Rice, announced the upcoming publication of Stanford Emerging Technology Review at the Tech Track II symposium reception on Wednesday. In partnership with School of Engineering Dean Jennifer Widom, the Hoover Institute aims to make information about technological breakthroughs continuously available to policymakers.
“We think there needs to be some translation, shall I say, between Silicon Valley and the speed of change that we see here and in other centers of technological excellence in the United States and how Washington, D.C. operates,” Rice said.
Widom will lead the School of Engineering professors across biology, computer science, bioengineering, electrical engineering and others who contribute to the review.
“One of my goals has been for the School of Engineering to be more collaborative across campus, and I can’t think of a better opportunity than to join Condie and her colleagues in this new venture at the Emerging Technology Review,” Widom said in a welcome speech. “I think it’s going to be incredibly impactful.”
The idea comes as a result of the work of the Technology, Economics and Government Working Group and a previous symposium. Group leaders Amy Zagert and John Taylor will join Rhys Widom as faculty co-chairs. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Stanford President John Hennessy and School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor are among who join the advisory board for the project.
For Rice, the unique value of the project stems from the combination of policy and scientific expertise between Stanford institutions.
“We have a lot of expertise in how to get ideas into the policy realm, how to help policymakers think about issues,” Rice said. “But we don’t have the expertise at Hoover to tell you what’s going on in nanotechnology and yet here at Stanford we have the leaders in all these fields.”
Symposium participants, including General Charles K. Brown Jr., the Air Force Chief of Staff, spoke to the request for information on innovative government research.
“We don’t know what we don’t know. As a military officer, I don’t work in technology every day, so I’m going to ask questions to be able to do things,” Brown said in response to the Daily. “The real beauty of an event like this is that it helps us all better appreciate the work that technology is and also think about the policies that go with it.”
Tech Track II is a Hoover Institution symposium aimed at fostering a deeper relationship between the US Department of Defense and Silicon Valley. The initiative hosted a symposium on Wednesday, followed by a reception where Rice made the announcement.
Former National Security Advisor HR McMaster hosted the 2022 symposium with Michael Brown, Raj Shah and Amy Zegert. In his welcome speech, he emphasized the urgency of bridging the communication gaps between the government and innovative ventures in Silicon Valley.
“The Department of Defense is still too slow to innovate within the technology circle and maintain our competitive advantages,” HR McMaster said. “Our risk calculation is off. We tend to think of action as risky. But the riskiest course of action for us right now is not taking action to become more nimble and innovate more effectively.”
General Brown agreed with McMaster’s assessment. He said that “about 80% of the real research and development that drives the technology happens outside of DoD [Department of Defense]”, which makes cooperation with private entities, such as venture capitalists, necessary for the defense sector.
“they [venture capitalists] Will do things, do some iterations and things will fail. Within DoD, we generally try to really de-risk programs. When you do that – it increases costs in some cases,” Brown said.
Working closely with the private sector allows the military to pay attention to successful investments that promote progress in the commercial and military sectors.
Michael Brown, a venture partner at Shield Partners and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, said the Russian war in Ukraine offers lessons about the growing role of commercial technology in conflict. Familiar products, from drones to Starlink are influencing today’s combat.
“It means that the companies around us, here in Silicon Valley, in Boston, in other centers of innovation, have a bigger role to play,” Brown said. “The defense should turn to them to complete the capabilities – it’s more than just aircraft carriers and fighter jets.”
Tech investor and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, Raj Shah, agreed with the initiative’s relevance amid the ongoing war.
“You see what’s happening in Ukraine. I mean they’re fighting their war using iPhones, Telegram, TikTok,” Shah said. “The war is going to change. And we want people who believe in democracy to win over those who don’t.”