Saturday, April 25, 2015
#115 / Hacking For Defense
Steve Blank, among other things, is the author of the The Startup Owner's Manual. He is, in essence, a "guru" of entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley style. Blank also served on the California Coastal Commission for awhile, and I appreciated his tough-minded approach to coastal protection.
I subscribe to Blank's blog, which anyone can do, and I enjoy his insights, but not always uncritically. I wasn't too happy with his description of a reunion he had with a long lost friend, and I am not too happy with Blank's most recent offering, either, "Hacking For Defense In Silicon Valley."
First, of course, "defense" isn't the right word, as far as I am concerned, when we are talking about the military. "Military" or "war" are the words most appropriate. For instance, and just as an example, calling our development of drone warfare "defense" is nothing more than propaganda. At least, that's my view. My mother's view, too, by the way.
In his "Hacking For Defense" essay, Blank lauds Colonel Peter Newell, pictured above. Newell left the Army, and now heads up a corporation called BMNT Partners, which is using information and data management and technology to improve the efficiency of our armed services. As a taxpayer, I guess I should be happy that someone is "hacking" our military machine, and making it more efficient.
But efficiency for what? That is my question. The problem with celebrating "technique" alone is always related to the "for what?" question.
Mobilizing the smart guys of the Silicon Valley to help the United States government maintain global military supremacy is not necessarily a "hack" that's going to be all that beneficial in the long run. At least, that's my belief.
How about turning those techniques towards "hacking for peace?"
I could be a lot more enthusiastic about that.