November 18, 2021

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Collective[i] Team

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Former Lockheed Martin CEO briefs Collective[i] Forecast community on U.S.-China Tech Race: "We have met the enemy, and it is us."

Collective[i] Forecast, November 11, 2021, featured one of the most significant leaders in the aerospace world, Norman R. Augustine and explored the topic, “Is America losing to China?: Former Lockheed Martin CEO weighs in on the battle for the future.” Mr. Augustine served as Under Secretary of the Army and Acting Secretary of the Army and is the retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Collective[i]® provides AI/ML and a network of crowdsourced insights to businesses for the purposes of forecasting and optimizing revenue produced by their sales teams. In this virtual briefing for Collective[i] clients and community members, Mr. Augustine addressed America’s declining position in relation to China, as well as how crucial it is for the U.S. to invest in research and development (R&D) in order to remain a global leader. Mr. Augustine responded to questions from business leaders, industry influencers, and journalists on a variety of themes ranging from U.S. trade ties with China to how the U.S. might accelerate progress in technological innovation.

Takeaways from the session:

  • In the next few years China will surpass the U.S. in R&D expenditure, calculated at purchasing power parity. According to Augustine, “80 percent of major company CEOs in America stated they would cut R&D rather than miss the following quarter’s earnings forecast.” Augustine contends that, when paired with the U.S.’ poor rankings in educational quality — particularly in science and math — this failure to prioritize research will result in the U.S. slipping behind in terms of innovation. “The consequences of falling behind China could go far beyond the fields of science and technology,” he said.

  • Augustine criticized the U.S. for not having even a two-year budget plan for R&D or a capital budget at all, while addressing the importance of China’s five-year plans. “No successful corporation in America does not have a capital budget… somehow, we’ve got to change our thinking,” he stated. “By 2042 or sooner, there will be no money for so-called discretionary items.” These include national security, infrastructure, federal aid to education, and R&D.

  • Investing in science and technology is critical. Augustine asserts that the U.S. should increase financial support and funding of research universities and scientific laboratories given the short-term focus of many corporations. “Today, basic research is funded at a rate of two-tenths of one percent of the nation’s GDP. That happens to be about what the nation’s citizenry spends on beer. One probably shouldn’t be surprised by the outcome of such a policy.”

  • When asked how the U.S. should accelerate innovation, Augustine said, “Our focus on the near-term spending on consumption, as opposed to investment, must change. Education and research happen to be two of the most long-term investments one can make.”

  • Augustine’s proposals to accelerate innovation include eliminating tenure in K-12 schools, embracing the free enterprise system for determining teacher’s compensation, doubling the size of Pell grants, abolishing the tax on gains on university endowments, federal funding of pre-schools, and placing teachers on renewable contracts. Aside from reforms to the U.S. education system, Augustine stated that another way to drive innovation is “to build stronger relationships with our allies.”

  • The U.S. has many advantages over China, but “We have met the enemy, and it is us,” Augustine stated. To compete effectively with China, “it’s going to be based on discovery, innovation, motivation, and leadership.”

  • Augustine predicts that we will enter a form of Cold War, but that “trade will continue.” He emphasized the importance of establishing a common ground for the rules of trade, stating that in the past the rules have been unacceptably imbalanced.

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