STEPS Returning in 2021!

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is excited to welcome you back to the STEPS magazine here in 2021. The magazine will serve as the principal outlet for the Potomac Institute’s own studies, and as a venue for discussions of the many, pressing science and technology policy issues facing us today. Every day, science and technology become more deeply entwined in our lives and livelihoods—thus requiring that we understand and thoughtfully consider its advancement in order to devise well-tailored policies to extract its full benefits while minimizing any risks posed to the nation’s happiness, productivity, or security. We trust that our readership will find each issue’s diverse collection of articles informative and insightful, and hope they prove a useful jumping-off point as our readers consider and converse upon each issue’s contents. We welcome contributions to the magazine at this time and look forward to the pending release of our next issue.

Department of Defense’s Innovation Experiment

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is in the midst of an experiment to inject “innovation” into its procurements and processes. The Defense Innovation Initiative (DII) is now in its second year, and has multiple components, but one of its high profile efforts is the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental (DIUx), which has opened an office in Silicon Valley. The authors contend that the purpose of DIUx is not just to locate and fund interesting companies, but also to educate organizations within the DoD as to the changed culture and funding model that drives innovation in the commercial marketplace. They offer some suggestions for ways that DIUx might operate in the future.

Read more: Department of Defense’s Innovation Experiment

Department of Defense Commercial Technology Acquisition: A Survey

The United States’ national security and military capabilities are dependent on the development, acquisition, and utilization of innovative technologies. The Department of Defense (DoD) has robust processes for developing its own high-tech solutions and it has developed strong partnerships with major suppliers of military technologies. However, the commercial technology arena, which is full of start-up companies and small businesses, generates a gigantic market for science and technology research and development that cannot be ignored. Centers of innovation like Silicon Valley develop technologies across a wide swath of categories, from advanced materials, displays, cybersecurity software, and wearable electronics to neurotechnology, communications devices, and artificial intelligence. The current DoD and federal government acquisition process cannot keep pace with the commercial market, and as a result, many opportunities for integration of innovative technologies are lost.


Government initiatives like Better Buying Power 3.0 are developing new efforts within the defense acquisition system to utilize technology innovation from the commercial sector. New initiatives from the Defense Innovation Unit experimental (DIUx) to the Air Force’s Office of Transformational Innovation (OTI) are tasked with improving acquisition processes and improving interactions with commercial industry. These efforts aim to maintain technological superiority through effective science and technology programs, spanning development, prototyping, and technology insertion. This article seeks to outline some of the roadblocks to the successful acquisition of commercial technologies and to provide recommendations on how to address them.

Read more: Department of Defense Commercial Technology Acquisition: A Survey

Integrative Computational and Neurocognitive Science and Technology for Intelligence Operations: Horizons of Potential Viability, Value and Opportunity

The authors present a case for a NEURINT (neurocognitive intelligence) approach to intelligence operations. This newly developing technology integrates tools from computational and neuro-cognitive sciences to enable automated access, acquisition and analysis of multiple sources of information to model and predict targets’ intentions and actions. The approach would utilize information from the brain sciences, together with human cognitive and machine-based processing, and cyber technologies and methods to synergize HUMINT, SIGINT and COMMINT in assessing and influencing target individuals and groups. Citing recent research in the field, the authors maintain that these techniques and technologies are ready to be further developed and engaged to optimize intelligence operations.

Read more: Integrative Computational and Neurocognitive Science and Technology for Intelligence Operations:...

It's Laboratory or Goodbye

Dr. Gerold Yonas served as the first Chief Scientist of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Reagan’s “Star Wars” program. While a true Star Wars defense system never came to fruition, Dr. Yonas always felt that the SDI played some role in the end of the Cold War and the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union. He has pondered the mystery of what actually happened when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for the historic and SDI-dominated summit talks at Reykjavik in October 1986.

Through the analysis of memoirs, documents from Soviet archives, and interviews of key decision makers, Dr. Yonas uncovered a history of disinformation and deception, missed opportunities and misunderstandings. He learned the tale of two leaders who desperately wanted to abolish nuclear weapons but ultimately failed to reach an agreement that could have changed the world. In this article, Dr. Yonas recounts a story of fear, pride and confusion – a lesson regarding the relationship between politics and technology and the important role of perceptions over reality. He explores how people with vastly different prejudices and worldviews, bereft of an understanding of the issues in technology development, faced a communication crisis. It is a parable on the role that personalities play in global policymaking.

Read more: It's Laboratory or Goodbye

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STEPS (Online) ISSN: 2333-3200

STEPS (Print) ISSN: 2333-3219

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