2015 GIS: Panel discussion on competitiveness dialogue frontiers of technology and innovation
Mr. Jim Phillips, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NanoMech
Dr. Keoki Jackson, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Lockheed Martin
Moderated by Chad Evans, Executive Vice-President at the Council on Competitiveness
“We are using big data techniques to deal with the incredible volume and velocity of telemetry data generated by the Orion Spacecraft, as it travels beyond low Earth orbit.”
“The nanoscale technology is a fast growing industry and many corporations are ready to make huge investments in it.”
Chad Evans: The capacity to obtain, to analyze massive quantities of data is an important driver for the systematization of innovation. The application of data analytics, big data, randomized controlled trials, advanced modeling and simulation is opening up tremendous new horizons for innovation around the world. The impacts that the transformations will have for businesses, for science and policy still need to be decoded & interpreted. The two distinguished technology and business leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs would share with us their insights on the business of innovation and their own strategic foresight on the over-the-horizon truly transformative developments that will underpin future innovation, future industrial capacity, productivity, prosperity and global competitiveness.
Keoki Jackson: In the coming years the internet traffic is expected to cross the zettabyte threshold. So new tools and big data processing combined with machine learning algorithms are enabling us as humans to learn, to understand, to predict and to act in whole new ways. They give machines new autonomous capabilities, but they let humans tackle problems that would otherwise be insurmountable. We are using big data techniques to deal with the incredible volume and velocity of telemetry data generated by the Orion Spacecraft, as it travels beyond low Earth orbit. Many terabytes would require literal armies of analysts and engineers to sift through but now we can automate that processing to keep our engineers focused on the important things, making sure that the astronauts and the spacecraft are healthy, predicting anomalies and taking corrective actions before things go wrong, and learning how each part of the mission relates to previous tests and flight data. We’re excited about things like very high-temperature plastics infused with Nano-carbon structures, giving the strength and durability to the best aerospace metals with the ease and the flexibility of injection molding techniques. The additive and advanced manufacturing techniques are just starting to completely reshape our production methods.
We’re pioneering multi-robotic additive clusters that do large-scale spacecraft manufacturing by integrating together industrial robots with 3-D printing technology. The third critical enabler that we think about is next-generation electronics. The trend is toward greater miniaturization, greater complexity and greater immigration, whether it’s in UAVs or satellites or wearable devices, they all need greater sensing and faster processing, but at the same time they have to be smaller, lighter and use a less electrical power. They need to be able to handle all kinds of environments, mechanical shocks, hot and cold temperatures, even the extreme and harsh radiation environment of outer space. We are building Nanotube Random Access Memories or NRAMs that use half the power of traditional technologies and perform better in high-temperature and high-radiation environments. We are using copper nanoparticle approaches, making lead-free solders that are easier to use, more durable and higher performance, but at the same time reducing cost and weight for soldered components. Conformal packaging, 3-D chips, systems on ships, and new high-power electronics, are all enabling brand-new capabilities in almost every field. Quantum information science may be the next step in going beyond Gordon Moore’s famous projection and observation. The quantum bit offers the possibility of solving computational problems that simply can’t be done on a classical computer even within the expected lifetime of the universe. We are looking at applications that include automated verification and validation of highly complex software systems. All of these technologies are revolutionary in their own right, but taken together they can solve some of humanity’s most pressing challenges; challenges that include the need for secure access to the global commons, to availability of affordable clean electrical power, to the basic human need to understand more about the universe around us. Addressing these challenges is fundamental to global competitiveness and global growth.
Jim Phillips: we have had so many incredible inventions that are going to in turn create innovation accelerators going forward that we have all grown up with like the chip, software and memory storage. the internet has given us a worldwide collaborative capability that never existed before in terms of invention and innovation. we literally now overcome time and space as never before. we have been going through the analog to digital revolution or the digital re-architecting of virtually everything. and it has literally crushed companies overnight with disruption to their business models. i was fortunate to have the opportunity to launch instant messaging and the cable modem, which are used by millions today although their chance of success was not nearly as obvious as when we first invented these game-changers. but, what’s coming now, even faster, is the era of nanotechnology which will have a profound effect on material science literally involving molecule on demand manufacturing. so we’re rapidly moving from micron scale to nanoscale. I also came out with a device i named the veinviewer, which was my first experience with nanotechnology using 760 nanometer near infra-red imaging technology, it provides a method where we can shine a light and see all your subcutaneous veins revolutionizing a part of healthcare through the convergence of digital technologies and saving lives. when we talk about innovation and frontiers, it’s more than just a science. it is a combination of ideation, thinking, invention, innovation and then execution at all times. the nanoscale technology is a fast growing industry and many nations and corporations are making huge investments in it. we are truly in a nanotechnology manufacturing moon race. it is going to be used in every industry including healthcare. the nanobots, which may look very futuristic, will be able to safely clean out clogged arteries, eliminate tumors, and one day repair chromosomes eliminating many diseases and genetic conditions and much more. one of the major things holding this up at this point is regulation. nano-technology can also be used at nature’s level called biomimicry. for instance in the battlefield, a lot of times smell makes a big difference. labradors actually have one of the best noses that have a keen sense of smell with over 200 million receptors. so using nanotechnology with a little device, one can be on the battlefield and can smell or detect though digital sensory receptors through bio-mimicking design whose upwind two miles away and tell us about the enemy and what he/ she had to eat last night. so nanoscale technology is fun to talk about in many of these cases, but it can become very practical and extraordinarily superior to many human or animal senses in addition to virtually all material science products today ushering in a manufacturing revolution. pretty much all the problems that remain in manufacturing are at nanoscale and therefore all the solutions are at nanoscale.
Chad Evans: What progress are you going to be making on the technological front? And how can we accelerate to get to that state?
Keoki Jackson: When we look at all of these technologies the interesting thing is, how do you put them together in new ways. We can think about dramatic improvements in performance, but also dramatic improvements in things like life-cycle costs etc. The Internet traffic has increased 50 times since 2006 and it continues at that rate.
Jim Phillips: We have got this worldwide excitement about social media but at the end of the day, to a great extent, it is disintermediation. we basically disintermediate print, tv and we are moving it over to the net. in manufacturing, all our costs are upfront and in the united states is orphaned for this reason by the venture community. manufacturing is declining on a global basis. anything that can be manufactured can virtually be weaponized so our economy and national security are at stake. That is my biggest fear that we are not seeing enough new manufacturing companies come out as innovators. we are seeing a lot in the it space, but at the end of the day, we still have to make things.
Chad Evans: What about policy infrastructure? What about things like standards and what can we do to really unleash pent-up innovation?
Keoki Jackson: A lot of the technologies that we’re talking about, whether they are big data or autonomy are really breaking new ground when you think about how they would be employed, whether it’s in personal use, industrial or governmental use. It is almost worse to have a bad or conflicting regulation, especially when we look across the political global landscape. There is a big debate right now on what are the privacy implications, who should own the data etc. If they are not hammered out, they are ultimately going to cause, great problems and probably some winners and losers in terms of the competitiveness battle. We need new thinking and ultimately new policy landscape, but we want it to be done in a way that is useful across global boundaries. We’re going to run into the same kinds of problems in the policy landscape across many different technologies.
Chad Evans: Qualification and certification, but also the concepts around intellectual property are two very important things. How do you think advanced materials need to succeed and really drive long-term prosperity?
Jim Phillips: I really believe in the ability of a company to protect the intellectual property. It is a must because you put your life savings and man-hours into it and there’s has to be a way to protect that. I worry about cyber warfare, where we have the most hit firewall in the entire Southeast US by the Chinese militia. Technology is a reflection of society and sometimes we have to self-police because we are the only one that knows our capability in that space. We are getting down to the bio-mimicking level, the ability to create, at nature’s level now, that are both phenomenal, make life better, make things perform better and longer. It will make technology available to everybody and everywhere.