Canada Opts-Out of Buying the F-35, Upgrades to F/A-18s For Now…

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Picture Credit: An F/A-18F Super Hornet deployed as part of Operation Inherent Resolve taxis across the flight deck the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

Following up on a pledge during his election campaign, Prime Minister Trudeau is now confirming steps by Canada to undertake a major shift in defense policy with the election in October of a new Liberal Party government.

DefenseOne reports that “after an initial buy of F/A-18s, Justin Trudeau’s government will hold a competition to replace the rest of its CF-18 Hornets,” such that, after involvement in the $1.3 Trillion Joint Strike Fighter program since 2002, Canada is opting for a continuity-oriented “defensive” option rather than the F-35. Canada intends to begin replacing its aging CF-18 Hornet fighter jets with a batch of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets — while Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, once slated to replace the entire CF-18 fleet, will have to win a new competition to get any contracts at all.

Air Force Magazine elaborated, citing Canada’s overdue upgrade of its fighter fleet due to mission requirements. The ministry will “immediately explore” buying the Super Hornets while simultaneously launching a competition for a fleetwide replacement for its CF-18s, which have been service-extended already and are more than a decade past their planned retirement. The competition could take five years to conclude. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada will remain part of the JSF program as a partner, but won’t necessarily buy the jets. He also said it would be “imprudent” to delay action in starting to replace Canada’s CF-18s any longer, because of Canada’s NATO and NORAD responsibilities.

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Picture Credit: JSF.mil schematic of the Boeing X-32B

But, one asks, will Boeing revive the X-32 Program as a competitor again to the Lockheed-Martin X-35 Program? Studies supporting JAST/JSF started in 1993 and led to STOVL submissions to the DOD by McDonnell Douglas, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Wikipedia recalls the history here: Boeing decided against thrust augmentation. They proposed an aircraft powered by a reheated turbofan that could be reconfigured (in the STOVL mode) into a direct lift engine with a pair of thrust-vectoring nozzles located near the aircraft centre-of-gravity. This led to the F119-PW-614S which powered the X-32B JSF demonstrator. Two contracts to develop prototypes were awarded on November 16, 1996, one each to Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Each firm would produce two aircraft to demonstrate conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL), carrier takeoff and landing (CV version), and short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL).

Boeing’s strategy for a competitive advantage was to offer substantially lower manufacturing and life-cycle costs by minimizing variations between the different JSF versions. The X-32 therefore was designed around a large one piece carbon fiber composite delta wing. The wing had a span of 9.15 meters, with a 55-degree leading edge sweep and could hold up to 20,000 pounds of fuel. The purpose of the high sweep angle was to allow for a thick wing section to be used while still providing limited transonic aerodynamic drag, and to provide a good angle for wing-installed conformal antenna equipment. The compete-on-cost strategy also led Boeing to pick a direct-lift thrust vectoring system. Michael Porter’s advocacy of cost leadership (see Slideshare overview here) is vindicated once again !

Based on Canada’s 2.1% share of the JSF Program, its cost of withdrawal will amount to $300M, according to industry sources. In earlier Capital Hill hearings, JSF’s Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, JPO chief, said the remaining international partners would face an increased cost per plane but this was before the recent GAO report suggesting that the development program will not conclude in 2017 (see IAI’s 18 November post here) and an earlier post about “Old Platforms” as ‘technology in use’ (see IAIA’s 2 November post here). Remember, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to disband the F-35 JPO this past June as its size was “disturbing”- now what? And, clearly, Turkey’s future in the JSF Program is at risk and, more broadly, its future as part of NATO is in question (as Newsbud flagged in August here, with links) also now as Turkey’s NATO staff has been targeted by the Erdogan purge.

DARPA – Replacement Satellites on Demand, XS-1, Cybersecurity and EMP

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Picture Credit: DARPA (artist rendition)

DARPA is building “a completely new architecture for space.” In order to protect these vital military space systems, this research agency spawned by the launch of Sputnik in 1958 is now focused on developing a “whole portfolio” of capabilities. Before the release of British Interplanetary Society member and Futurist Arthur C. Clarke‘s seminal 1945 paper describing the launch of satellites, he first referenced geostationary satellites in his February 1945 letter to the editor of  Wireless World (page 58) titled Peacetime Uses for V2 for Ionosphere Research.

The U.S. Military must instead have been paying attention to D.A. Bell’s adjacent letter regarding ” FM Protection Against High Amplitude Interference Pulse” which was a precursor of signal disruption in FM broadcasting and now a core broadcasting consideration. (D)ARPA established the IPTO in 1962 with a mandate to build a survivable computer network to interconnect the DoD’s main computers at the Pentagon, Cheyenne Mountain, and SAC HQ. As described in the following pages, this initiative led to the development of the ARPANET seven years later, and then to the NSFNET and the Internet.

In 2010, Oak Ridge National Labs (FERC – META- R-320 here) warned of U.S. power grid vulnerability from the threat of “early-time (E1) high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) produced by nuclear detonations above an altitude of ~30 km.” Not only are HEMP (EMP) and cybersecurity prominent national security risks today, but so is the militarization of space. Two authors writing in the SAIS Journal of International Affairs last winter claimed the need for electric grid modernization was prompted by the threat from “Mother Nature” (SAIS, Vol 35, No.1) – sorry, unlike Slate, neither Oak Ridge National Labs (see EIS report here) and DARPA (to name two experts among many) do not see climate change as the real risk to critical infrastructure.

The DOD reported this week that “national security critically depends on space, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA’s Project List is detailed here) is focused today on creating the capabilities needed to help make that environment a real-time operational domain, DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar said recently at the 2016 DefenseOne Summit as reported in Air Force Magazine:

Because there “is more and more a real possibility” of conflict in space, “there is nothing that we need either from an intelligence perspective or a military perspective that we can do effectively without space.”

DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar

 Its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program (ALASA) plans to create a low cost alternative for small satellite launches and Space.com has the DARPA simulation here. They explain: “ALASA seeks to propel 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch.” The $10K/pound payload cost does not reflect total program cost but is a third of the current cost DARPA estimates but it is certainly not an all-in programmatic cost estimate. Right now, ramp times for unexpected launch operations number in the months.

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A critical  part of the portfolio will be DARPA reliance on its experimental spaceplane, XS-1 which entered phase 2 of its development this past spring. The Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program  aims to help overcome cost, deployment and positioning challenges and create a “new paradigm” for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations. Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager. “We intend to leverage those advances along with our Phase 1 progress to break the cycle of escalating DoD space system launch costs, catalyze lower-cost satellite architectures, and prove that routine and responsive access to space can be achieved at costs an order of magnitude lower than with today’s systems.” DARPA has a history of being responsive to challenges:

DARPA’s ability to adapt rapidly to changing environments and to seek and embrace opportunities in both technology and in processes, while maintaining the historically proven principles of the Agency, makes DARPA the crown jewel in Defense R&D and a unique R&D organization in the world.

DARPA Over the Years, August 1997.

So, how does DARPA frame the goal of making space a real-time operating domain (RTOD)? DARPA’s OpenCatalog actually labels these mixed-criticality real-time threats. Their Iron Curtain Active Protection System has an amazing video here of how it operates. Partnering with non-profit strategic venture investor In-Q-Tel, DARPA is going to have to rely on trusted national partners and allies. IQT Labs are exploring new ideas, technology, and approaches in select sectors that are anticipated to significantly impact national security.  Under the Space 3.0 Program, a number of initiatives are underway.

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Picture Credit: IQT Labs

Unlike Government exquisite systems (Space 1.0) or commercial exquisite systems (Space 2.0), Space 3.0 is being driven by venture-backed startups that are leveraging a variety of converging factors to produce a new wave of affordable products and services. From reliable space access to new analytics for remote sensory data, startups are disrupting current processes and establishing a new space ecosystem.

One particularly relevant IQT Labs effort is centered at CosmiQ Works which brings together the U.S. Intelligence Community, industry, and academia “to explore the art of the possible in the new space ecosystem.”

Inside the Next Startup Garage

Space is hard. Luckily, there are several converging advances that are helping startups launch, sometimes literally, entirely new product lines.

rocket-blueAccess to Space

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) to be specific. New launch vehicles and rideshare options are increasing access and decreasing costs.

Cheap(er) Hardwaresatellite-blue

Adoption of commodity hardware coupled with the use of agile development methods.

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Lower costs and fast development allow startups to accept greater risks.

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Affordability and tailored services are opening the space market to new customers.

Investment in a Commercial Ecosysteminvestment-blue

Venture firms are investing in the new ecosystem ranging from launch systems to data analytics.

 

“Great Surge” Theory and Techno-Economic Paradigm Shifts (hint, we’re in one…)

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Picture Credit: Getty Images

Futurist Carlota Perez’s “Beyond the Technological Revolution” research offers wise guidance to policymakers as Wiki describes it as “a further development of Joseph Schumpeter‘s work on Kondratieff waves earning her the 2012 the Silver Kondratieff Medal by the International N. D. Kondratieff Foundation. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), the “Prophet of Innovation” Professor Schumpeter characterized “industrial mutation” as a process that “incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. (p. 83)” MIT elaborates that over half of productivity gains come this way:

“The process of Schumpeterian creative destruction (restructuring) permeates major aspects of macroeconomic performance, not only long-run growth but also economic fluctuations, structural adjustment and the functioning of factor markets.”

Austrian School scion Schumpeter presciently warned that the collapse of capitalism would lead to global socialism as entrepreneurship is undermined and the ownership of the means of production becomes divorced from the producers themselves (essentially what we have now as Sutirtha Bagchi extracted in his Amazon review in 2008). Neo-Schumpeterian Carlota Perez who wrote Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, was mentored by Christopher Freeman, and both elucidated the relationship between basic innovations, technical and institutional change, and economic development. Right to work states are defended by Mark Thornton, Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute, here in a recent preview of the Trump Administration’s economic policy outlook. What he prescribes is akin to the Hippocratic Oath, typically presented to physicians as “First, Do No Harm.” But Medicine.Net explains it is much deeper and more complex:

One of the oldest binding documents in history, the Oath written by Hippocrates is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability, to preserve a patient’s privacy, and to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation.

IAI believes that a successful long-term policy framework to promote economic growth should operate with some basic widely-agreed, fact-based principles. Neo-Schumpeterian political economists explain that policy needs to help entrepreneurs to success: fewer taxes, less regulation and minimal interference with the market’s price signaling mechanism. Perez laid out a history of five technological revolutions that follow a similar pattern of bang, bust and renewal. In The Other Canon Foundation, Perez and a dozen other economic historians celebrate “man the producer” (and not “man the consumer”) and highlight the critical  the link between innovation and financial dynamics. In short, they are champions of the Learning Economy and DRUID’s Bengt-Åke Lundvall and colleagues developed the idea of innovation as an interactive process and celebrated the concept of National System of Innovation. The key here is being shown in how the technology surge has been creating knowledge worker jobs.

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Picture Credit: CBRE Research

Just as in natural science, errors of commission or omission can be catastrophic, disastrous economic policy failures result when they:

  1. are made in secret;
  2. fail to account for industry operating conditions; and
  3. ignore history (the sine qua non)

Policymaking in Secret: The Council of Economic Advisors issued a report detailing the costs of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) right before President Obama announced the withdrawal from the TPP ! One year earlier, President Obama had hailed the proposed TPP (which no one had read) as “the most progressive trade deal in history.”

Failure to Make Any Policy: For example, product and liability insurance policy reforms are needed for Commercial Spaceports in new Trump administration as a recent GAO report pointed out and NASA somehow got stuck with a $5M bill for the 2014 Antares explosion which contractor insurance should cover, not taxpayers ! The GAO decried, ““FAA has not issued guidance to spaceport operators to clarify when it considers them third parties and when it considers them involved parties,” adding that agency officials told them that such guidance “has not been a high priority” for them.

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Picture credit: Choice.com.au

Ignoring History: Bertrand, Schoar and Thesmar (2004-7) drive home the point that problems in the banking sector can have grave consequences for the health of the restructuring process.  Economic historian Thornton at Mises Institute warned in 2005 (just after the FBI and Professor William Black!) that a housing bubble was building in 2005.  Deloitte has a great study here pointing out that Hong Kong benefits from a low tax structure, a “fair trade” approach distinct from mainland China, and a free movement of capital and skilled labor.  Maybe, before the policy gets codified, the tax holiday repatriation of (at least) $2.1 TRILLION should get favorable tax treatment if it is invested in productive capital and infrastructure rather than used for share buybacks which are just another distortion of equity markets and a signal that corporations have no higher return alternatives. Let’s advocate for an infrastructure stimulus from these repatriations NOW !

 

Uh Oh- $400B F35 Fighter Program at Considerable Risk

70 ARS Refuels F-35As

Picture Credit: Marines

  • Fifth-generation fighter has been plagued with issues 
  • $400bn development schedule has stretched to 15 years
  • Weeks ago military bosses claimed it was finally ‘combat ready’

IAI wrote recently about the stretch out of multiple combat role platforms to 2025 or even 2040 given their history of reliability and cost effectiveness (like the A-10 Warthog) and the application of additive manufacturing to achieve parts re engineering performance improvement. Now we learn what many expected was going on behind the scenes: the program has failed in critical systems design elements spanning the heads-up displays for pilots and the stability of the flight control systems, according to SOFREP:

  • During its initial test flight, recently declassified reports reveal that the test pilot reported heavy vibrations in the controls, due to tail flutter. Installation of new fairings or “fillets” in the wing roots to improve airflow, as well as counterweights and horizontal stabilizer angle of incidence seemed to mend the control issues.
  • On one of the early test missions, there is a report of an engine failure during approach to landing. This caused some instability and caused the aircraft to bank steeply and drop altitude at more than a rate the pilot could compensate for.
  • The crash of the only flyable version of this new fighter is reported to have set the secret program back two years. When later versions of this fighter emerged and began flight test, they too saw significant airspeed and flutter problems.
  • The issue was so bad that engineers completely redesigned the tail surfaces. One of the new-tailed designs was launched on a test flight to see how it would work. That pilot, also revealed, was Mr. Ralph Virden. He entered a dive with the new aircraft to test its speed limits and upgraded tail…and never recovered. He was killed instantly when the aircraft impacted the ground.

The jets were first to deploy as part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA-121 in early 2017. “We will learn from that, and see what capabilities we need to further develop. A lot of it’s going to be the school of hard knocks,” said Marine Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, the commanding general of the Marines’ Combat Development Command, according to Defense One.

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Picture Credit: Lockheed Martin F-35

But the Pentagon’s director of testing recently warned it is “not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver’ the plane’s full combat capabilities on time.” The F-35 program has derailed to the point where it “is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion.” The 16-page memo, first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect. In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, warned that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office is simply cut short the plane’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met, reported the Daily Mail (UK).  Gilmore charged that “the primary concerns were that the program appeared to be prematurely ending System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and was not taking the necessary steps to be ready for which will be conducted using realistic combat missions fully consistent with our war plans and threat assessments.”

Duck, Astronauts! 100M Pieces of Space Junk in Orbit Now

Cool video here: Space Junk

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Picture Credit: NASA

Update:

Our Hypervelocity Impact Technology team’s recent testing will contribute to a new shield for More at

 Some 27,000 of these are larger than softballs (about 4 inches) across 
  • These are tracked by Nasa and the US Department of Defense
  • They pose a threat to future generations living and working in space
  • ‘Adrift’ science and arts exhibition raises awareness of the dangers posed by space debris

A nice report in the Daily Mail (UK) explains that space junk or “debris” is a growth industry as “the rubbish circling the planet comes from old rockets, abandoned satellites and missile shrapnel.” The metal and plastic junk hurtling round the Earth at more than 20 times the speed of sound (over 17K mph) presents one of the greatest environmental challenges facing humanity, according to NASA and its UK counterpart. Dr Hugh Lewis believes the growing problem to be a threat to future generations’ hopes of living and working in space.  Cleaning up orbital space ‘may take years to achieve’ and will require the help of engineers, scientists, lawyers and economists, he says. ” Dr Lewis issued this warning at the Royal Astronomical Society during the launch of Adrift, a new science and arts project aimed at raising awareness of space junk (see Twitter profile here).

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Picture Credit: Project Adrift

Dr. Lewis is Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southampton, author of the space debris evolutionary model DAMAGE and I lead the Astronautics Research Group’s space debris and space situational awareness activities. I’m a member of the UK Space Agency delegation to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and the Space Missions Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG), and I’m also a member of the UK delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS).

Space.com has a specific section on “Space Debris” and noted that the U.S. and China held a second set of talks on the orbiting junk. Collisions have happened before and the International Space Station has documented the risks.. In a keynote speech in Maui on Sept. 22 at the AMOS conference, Frank Rose, the assistant secretary of State for arms control, verification and compliance, said that the China talks include space debris, collision prevention steps on orbit and China’s aggressive development of anti-satellite systems. Rose warned, “We want to promote strategic restraint where we can. We’ve also made it very clear to China, Russia and other potential adversaries the United States will defend ourselves and our friends in outer space.”

Firefly Space Systems (Austin, TX) was going to harvest dead satellites and space junk by transporting them to the Mars moon Phobos but this was a secondary to the core mission: “to provide low-cost, high-performance space launch capability for the under-served small satellite market, where secondary-payload launches are often the only option.” Phobos is the innermost and larger of the two natural satellites of Mars, the other being Deimos. Both moons were discovered in 1877 by American astronomer Asaph Hall.  But in October 2016, Space News reported that a key investor needed to complete a Series A funding round, according to co-founder and chief executive Thomas Markusic.

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Picture Credit: BeyondtheMarquee.com from Warner Brothers Studios

Hollywood already has aggressively embraced the “space movie” theme with over 25 releases in 2016 alone. The risks from space debris were shown with great cinematography (if not acting) in the 2013 movie Gravity (HDX video trailer here).

 

Anti-innovation: Lessons from the Lone Ranger

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Picture Credit: Collider.com

Hat Tip to Forbes as IAI started writing this blog and realized that the coin can be flipped. But, really, anti-innovation is retrograde !

As companies experience success, their emphasis tends to shift to protecting and maintaining the status quo versus considering new opportunities and products. Unfortunately, clinging to what has worked in the past puts the brakes on innovation. It also puts you out of touch with your customers’ changing needs — a dangerous circumstance in today’s highly volatile markets. If you’re trying to innovate but not having success, see if any of these apply to your organization.

1. Stuck thinking. This occurs when individuals and teams get so locked into old ideas, attitudes, and assumptions that they don’t take the time to update them. If you haven’t asked yourself within the last three to six months, “What has changed about our customers, our markets, and our industry?” you’ve just taken your first step toward anti-innovation.

2. We’ve always done it that way. When the organizational focus shifts to protecting the status quo, people stop looking for new processes or solutions. When problems arise, people tend to default to the solution that looks most like what has worked in the past rather than exploring new ideas or different ways of doing things.

3. Playing not to lose. As leaders spend more time protecting current assets rather than defining and executing edge-centric strategy, the organizational mindset changes from “play to win” to “play not to lose.” This subtle shift in attitude has a profound impact on how decisions get made and how people behave at all levels of the organization.

4. Customer disconnect. Who has time to talk to customers anymore? We’re running as fast as we can just to get the product out the door! Besides, we know what our customers need and we know the best way to give it to them, right? You won’t hear this attitude spoken out loud. But if you look closely, you can see it driving behavior on a daily basis. If you’re not talking with customers, it also means you’re not listening. And if you’re not listening, it’s just a matter of time before you’re no longer relevant to their world.

5. The lone ranger approach. In many companies, one team or small department gets tasked with innovation. That’s like asking a single NASA engineer to develop a new rocket ship to take us to Mars. Innovation requires a combination of skills and talents from all areas of the organization. It does not flourish in isolated silos or hidden corners of the organization.

6. Failure not an option. Most organizations don’t tolerate failure very well to begin with. And once the mindset shifts to protecting the golden goose, failure becomes anathema to the organization. But failure goes hand-in-hand with innovation. If you’re not failing to some degree, you’re not trying or pushing hard enough.

7. Follow the leader mentality. Too often, attempts to innovate occur as a response to a new entry into the market or an existing competitor’s innovation. However, true innovation leads the way rather than attempting to catch up. Don’t ignore what your competitors do in the marketplace. But don’t let it drive your innovation efforts either. Figure out where your customers will need you to be in six months to a year and get there first.

8. Weak hires. Companies looking to protect their success often make a subtle shift in hiring. Rather than new ideas and new energy, people get hired for their ability to “come in and hit the ground running.” Which is another way of saying they won’t rock the boat. As the overall talent level begins to decline, so do new ideas, new thinking, and successful innovation.

9. Lack of know-how. Employees need to have the appropriate skills and abilities to discover, evaluate, and execute on the best ideas. If you don’t invest the time and money to constantly develop those skills, don’t expect people to innovate on a consistent basis.

10. Unrealistic expectations. As success begins to slip away, management often begins looking for that one “killer” product or idea that will save the company or at least prolong the life of the cash cow. This tendency to put all the resources into one make-or-break innovation effort usually ends in disaster and disappointment.

Remember, innovation should always link directly to your strategy. And it works when it becomes a way of life rather than a one-time event. Stop clinging to past successes, update your thinking constantly, and you will find it much easier to innovate and thrive in today’s hyper-paced world.

 

STEM Education: The Future of the U.S. Economy NOT Universal Income

Uber-entrepreneur and genius Elon Musk shocked many last week by declaring that “there is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation.” Vanity Fair puts together a nice profile on where Musk is coming from… last Christmas, Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and Jessica Livingston announced the founding of OpenAI, a nonprofit research venture aimed at developing “digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity.” Well done and innovators AND educators should focus on empowering and training knowledge workers and students. In mobility fields, for example, PPI states that AppEconomy jobs doubled to nearly 1.7M this year from 2013. TechoPedia frames the AppEconomy as a mobility phenomenon stemming from the range of economic activity surrounding mobile applications . VentureBeat forecast that the AppEconomy market will rise to over $100B by 2020. But STEM education is much more than delivering knowledge to users at any point of delivery – structure will have to come from the setting and the silos for delivery to (what HBR calls) frontline workers in context.

Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) gets the importance of STEM, but sadly politicizes it. in a CES post in November 2014, he points out that STEM should be an important and constructive element of immigration reform: “U.S. global competitiveness is being threatened by our outdated legal immigration policies, costing our economy hundreds of thousands of jobs a year. We urge the White House and the next Congress to work together toward a legislative solution that decouples bipartisan, high-skilled immigration reform from overall reform efforts.” He does, recently, also try to address the inevitable job displacement in advance of the annual ultra-popular CES extravaganza,”The most common complaint I hear from our more than 2,200 consumer technology member companies is that they need many more qualified graduates with technical and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) backgrounds – the supply does not meet our expanding demand. ”

BI Intelligence offers their analysis of each area that could offer elements of a STEM curriculum in a business school setting:

In order to take STEM education to the next level, the deployment of self-service, cloud-based business intelligence tools that is underway must also occur in educational institutions, training programs and in sponsored programmatic competitions such as the wonderful NASA Space Race. Gartner offers a roadmap for the digitalization of education here. Rita Sallam, Research Vice President at Gartner Group elaborated in PC Magazine, “The BI&A market is in the final stages of a multiyear shift from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to pervasive, business-led, self-service analytics. Organizations will continue to transition to easy-to-use, fast, agile, and trusted modern BI&A platforms deployed across the enterprise to create business value from deeper insights into diverse data sources.” The 2016 Gartner Critical Capabilities report is a definitive guide to understanding which BI and analytics vendors offer the best products (the report is free for download here).

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Picture Credit: NASA Space Race

Corporations are driving spending on cloud-based BI technology which is growing 4.5x faster than spending for on-premises solutions. Dan Vesset, IDC‘s Program Vice President for Business Analytics and Big Data, projected that spending on self-service visual discovery and data preparation tools will grow 2.5x faster in 2016 than traditional IT-controlled tools, and said it will necessitate a fundamental IT culture change. “Responding to the demand for self-service BI technology will necessitate a reassessment of current centralized IT practices,” said Vesset. “IT will need to recognize the full range of different [BI&A] needs and ensure that the full technology stack or services are available to address the self-service needs of user group.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that STEM occupations  will grow to more than nine million between 2012 and 2022 – an increase of about one million jobs over 2012 levels. Remember our “frontline workers”? A Rice University research paper studied how creativity affected customers’ perception of customer service. HBR reports,

The researchers found that the creativity of front-line service employees (which they called “service creativity”) directly affected customer services ratings. “Service creativity allows employees to delight customers in unusual ways or solve problems that existing protocol falls short of addressing,” said Jing Zhou, a co-author on the study and professor of management at Rice University. “The findings suggest that service creativity is a powerful avenue through which customer satisfaction can be achieved.”

Apply the same approach to STEM education and we will have a much happier and engaged population of life-long learning students in our communities.

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Picture Credit: Julian Kalic’s Wisdom Tower