Editor's Notes

Published: Tuesday, 30 June 2015 22:23
Written by Robert Hummel PhD
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Robert Hummel PhD

While this issue of STEPS was not designed to be a special issue on a single theme, the articles this month nonetheless revolve around the idea of taking science and technology from the academic and commercial environments, and applying them to government needs.

The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) has emphasized this theme through the Defense Innovation Initiative, and the opening of a Department of Defense (DoD) office in Silicon Valley, and soon another one in Boston. I had been talking to the team at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in Silicon Valley, prior to the leadership change instituted by the Secretary of Defense in May, and so have authored an article with Kathryn Schiller Wurster about strategies that DIUx might take to foster innovation in DoD.

Brian Barnett and Jennifer Buss of the Potomac Institute present findings and recommendations concerning the DoD commercial technology acquisition. They have spent much time and energy working in the “Innovation Outreach” program of DoD, which uses venture capitalists and technology experts to provide advice to government organizations as to how they can leverage cutting-edge technology and best practices in commercial technology developments. Based on lessons learned, they outline some of the roadblocks and potential solutions.

James Giordano and Rachel Wurzman discuss the concept of NEURINT, which they suggest as a way to leverage advances in neural and cognitive sciences, and neurotechnology to better understand motivations and behaviors of individuals and groups, to gain greater intelligence and to provide policy-makers with better options as to how to deal with conflicts. They view NEURINT as supplementary to legacy approaches in the intelligence community involving HUMINT, SIGINT, and COMINT, which then require subjective human analysis in order to understand the threats and potential responses. Based on data that can be collected from social media and other means, together with experience, and combined with neuroscientific tools and techniques, they propose that we can develop concepts and approaches to optimize our use of intelligence.

This issue again includes several “Viewpoints,” wherein authors express opinions on timely topics of science and technology policy.

As the political season heats up, transition teams will be considering possible agendas for the next administration. While we are strongly nonpartisan; our hope is that issues discussed in STEPS will help steer the thinking of all parties and all relevant policy people in the next Congress and next administration. In that regard, we welcome submissions for the next issues to appear in 2016, before the transition in January 2017. I would be glad to discuss proposals for articles with prospective authors. You can find more information at: www.potomacinstitute.org/steps.

We hope you find utility in this current issue of STEPS.


Robert Hummel, PhD
STEPS Editor-in-Chief
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