Pentagon Comes Knocking in Silicon Valley

When The Pentagon Comes Knocking: An Open Letter To Silicon Valley

Christopher Meissner is a senior associate at Avascent specializing in growth strategies for technology companies operating within government-driven markets. How to join the network August Cole is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security , where he is also the director of their Art of Future War project. How to join the network The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, has made two trips to Silicon Valley this year, but has only spoken directly to his counterpart in Russia once in the same period — despite NATO being on its highest possible alert level. That’s how serious the Pentagon is about courting Silicon Valley to bolster defense innovation. Just as the Defense Department is scouring the Bay Area for good ideas (and has even set up a sort of consul outpost at Moffett Field), it also is turning a hard eye on itself. The military’s leaders want to change the culture of the world’s largest bureaucracy and cut red tape in both acquiring technologies and working with new companies. They are hoping that the startups and tech giants of Silicon Valley will form — to use the DC-jargon — a new “defense industrial base,” or “DIB 2.0” supplier base. Despite this intense focus on how to get Silicon Valley to share its best ideas with the U.S. government, something crucial is being overlooked: The companies of “DIB 2.0” are worried that working with the military will restrict exports of their ideas to the world’s biggest international markets, including China. American export laws meant to keep weapons away from adversaries (many dating to the Cold War) now ensnare sales of certain high-tech products, of which the U.S. is a leading producer, such as satellites and software, as well as robotics and artificial intelligence. […]