DarkCyber believes that the misstep, if that’s what it was, was a reminder that technical expertise and excellence are not as easy as writing a proposal, pulling some influence strings, or assuming that code actually works in the real world.
Nope, the good enough approach is operating.
But the larger message is that if the US expects to maintain a place among technology leaders, a different mind set is needed.
ROBERT STEELE: In 1986 I was talking to Dr. Mike Leavitt, then working with my colleague Dr. Rick Steinheiseer in the CIA’s Office of Research & Development (ORD). I was at the time the central visionary (not the central technical specialist) in the new Artificial Intelligence Staff that CIA created around me in 1986. We were talking about our shared view that the US Government was losing the ability to write Statements of Work (SOW) and also — logically — losing the ability to do Functional Requirements Surveys (I did one of the only ones ever done at CIA in modern times back then) and also losing the ability to devise technical evaluation plans for SOWs. We agreed generally that we were moving toward idiot COTRs (Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives, something I have done for both CIA and DoD) who threw money at contractors who wrote their own SOWs essentially telling the government “you need more of what we cannot sell to anyone else.” US acquisition is BROKEN. Chuck Spinney has commented on this at length, pointing out that the DoD practice of “government specifications cost plus” has destroyed engineering across the country, across all industrial domains, not just within the military-industrial complex. We do not have people who are heard on the subject of emphemeralism (Buckminster Fuller’s term) — doing more with less, the essence of a “good hack.” We have become lazy and stupid in part because borrowing has produced so much “easy money” (never mind its true cost) that our COTRs and their chains of command are simply not held accountable for being full professionalis — nor are our warfighters being held accountable for building a military that cannot win wars. Bluster is not a substitute for strategy and it is not a substitute for integrity. We are on thin ice, and Steve’s post is vastly more important than most people are ever going to realize.
I have also had this discussion with Bill Binney, and we agree that in his world, money, not need, is what drives contracts — the more money the better, performance is not part of the deal.
I have closed the door on my thirty years wandering in the wilderness, and pretty much given up hope that my government might ever listen to me. Below are my three parting gifts in the pubic interest.
Steele, Robert, REINVENTING NATIONAL SECURITY: Grand Strategy, Global Reality, and the U.S. Army — Everything Our President Is Not Being Told (Trump Revolution 45) (Amazon CreateSpace, Earth Intelligence Network, November 2019).
Steele, Robert, REINVENTING INTELLIGENCE: 30 Years in the Wilderness (Trump Revolution 46) (Amazon CreateSpace, Earth Intelligence Network, 2019).
Steele, Robert, REINVENTING ENGINEERING: The Ultimate Hack — Creating a Prosperous World at Peace with Open Source Everything (Amazon CreateSpace, Earth Intelligence Network, 2020).
We have become unethical unprofessional retards. This breaks my heart.