Friday, June 20, 2008

Risk Aversion & Technological Progress

Interesting interview with Rear Adm. Jay M. Cohen, chief of naval research. These "flowers" aren't X-projects, but they stem from a similar perspective on risk-aversion as it related to technological progress.

Quote: "What are some examples of the Swampworks projects?"

Cohen: "Unclassified examples include efforts to actively cancel the noise [that] tactical jet aircraft engines make; [also,] an order of magnitude improvement in naval heavyweight torpedo performance in the littorals at half the weapon size; [and] a 360-degree, computer-aided camera for use on top of a submarine periscope or on land as an area surveillance and defense device."

"Has the Swampworks office met your expectations?

Cohen: "I will tell you that my disappointment to date, in myself, is that, of the dozen or so projects that we have done in the last three years, very few have failed. That tells me that . . . things that we thought were insolvable, things that seemed to be a bridge too far, we just hadn't tried the innovative solutions for. So we need to continually raise the bar to get even greater game-changers. We in naval research and S&T get paid to take risk. ... You don't get breakthroughs if you aren't willing to take risks."


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

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