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Air Force Research Laboratory Wants to Trade Employees with Google and Apple

Written by on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The US military has always been on the cutting edge. It funds next-generation weapons, it invents new technology, and it keeps itself equipped with the best hardware available. But that might not be good enough, said Jennifer Ricklin of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin.’” The US military is set up to operate on an industrial-age model: pour money into research and government contractors to ensure that the US has the biggest and baddest weapons. That worked wonderfully during the Industrial Age and the Machine Age, but in 2012 we’ve graduated to the Age of Information.

Ricklin explained, “There are a lot of advances and investigation in the private sector, and it’s just hard to keep up when you’re not in close communication with the folks that are involved. I’m thinking about tablets and smart phones and the big data issues and cloud computing — all of these things that are transforming how our society operates and communicates.”

To put it simply, private companies are advancing in certain fields faster than the US military can even dream of keeping up – even with its near-endless budget. It’s no longer practical to fund solitary projects, Ricklin argued. The best approach nowadays is to collaborate with technological power houses and tweak existing technology to suit the government’s needs, rather than building an entirely new system from the ground up.

But here’s the great thing about order cialis tadalafil this new system: instead of the US military relying on private companies, this paradigm shift can create a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship. Ricklin explained, “We have a lot of insight into security requirements, and we can share with them some of what we know about that, and in exchange we would be able to have the very latest and greatest but with all of that security already implemented so that it would be suitable for military use.” The US military can help Google beef up security, and Google could help the military create a more efficient data storage system.

So, how is the USAF going to build bridges with other companies? They’re considering trading employees, kind of like a high school exchange student system. AFRL employees will take a month-long sabbatical to work at a Silicon Valley company, all while being paid by the Air Force. Theoretically, this can help improve lines of communication between the military and the technical powerhouses, all while facilitating the exchange of ideas.

What we can expect from this is a total shift in how the DoD and private companies operate? In the past, it’s always been a client-business relationship wherein companies like Lockheed Martin strive to meet the demands of the Air Force. In the years to come we might see something closer to a business partnership with the USAF working alongside companies like Apple or Google to create a stronger, more secure digital world.

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