Intel has been one of the most DARPA-critical entities among all large tech companies in the U.S.
Former Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger, now CEO of VMWare, heavily criticized the massive funds that have been made available to DARPA for military spending purposes, while science and math did not receive the necessary education resources to help the U.S. remain competitive with countries such as China.
So it may be somewhat surprising that a writer for Intel's own technology blog, Free Press, had an opportunity to interview DARPA Director Dan Kaufman, and the questions only scratched the surface and were as cautious as the answers that were given. However, Kaufman was outspoken about the current IP protection trend that is raising more and more concern whether IP lawsuits are serving their purpose or not. Kaufman's full answer on the role of IP Law:
"If you create a great product, you’re going to be out in front of people and you’re going to do just fine. There’s nothing wrong with companies wanting patents and to be protected, but I think that if the majority of your efforts are focused on [protecting IP], it’s almost the beginning of the decay of your company. You need to focus your bright brains on making the next incredible product. The idea is, go make cool stuff and lawyers can do the lawyer thing."
Intel also asked him about which country has the edge in scientific research, which could have been a clever setup for a discussion how the education and scientific research environments in the U.S. compare with the rest of the world, one of Intel's big concerns. Kaufman's answer was an example of diplomacy:
"No country has a monopoly on great ideas or great people. One of the things we’ve worked at really hard inside DARPA is opening things up — moving most research projects from classified to unclassified. We try to bring in people from different groups, ethnicities and sexes. There is scientific evidence that shows over and over again that diversity yields benefits. To me, that goes for anywhere in the world. Technology is more ubiquitous, countries are coming online and getting more tools and more power, and some people are worried about America’s dominance being threatened. I don’t view it that way. I view technology as a gift to the world. Scientists of a certain age talk about Sputnik or seeing the Moon launch. We need that age of wonder again. What sparks technology is not showing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scores. It’s not about beating this country or that country. What we need is a sense of wonder, like when you look at something and think, “Oh my, this is amazing and I want to be a part of it.” That’s our job at DARPA."