has always had strong scientific and technical relationships with Japan, England, Australia, France, Germany, and Italy. Those relationships were eroding, he said, because it was difficult for those countries to work with the United States under the present restrictions.
Another question from the steering committee centered on incentives and cash fees. Ryder admitted he was unsure about their use. The company has rewarded its employees based more on the success of an overall program than on individual success. Ryder manages tens of millions of dollars of internal corporate R&D funds as well as funds for other parts of the corporation. Large sums are set aside each year for incentives to promote new ideas, using mechanisms that resemble small businesses within the company. Many researchers work with outside universities and small businesses using these funds, which range from $20 to $100 million. Large companies could easily move away from real innovation, Ryder said. Small companies, on the other hand, have trouble finding the money to do things. Incentives fit into this picture somewhere, and the issue becomes the roles of various stakeholders.
Ryder believed that DOD and NASA might have moved away from what they really do best—risky, high-reward technology (such as the space elevator). He did not see an immediate means to manufacture hundreds of miles of material to make the space elevator concept work, but the concept would have incredible results if it could be achieved. Large companies would not take the risk since the ultimate payoff might be 100 years away. But some smaller companies might be willing to compete to design and produce the smaller components and mechanisms that would drive the entire system. Someone has to consider the high risks, however.
Ryder declared that if the country was going to continue human exploration of space, it was time to seriously identify the high-risk technology problems that needed to be solved and to work with universities and companies on a means to do this.
One attendee asked if there was anything to learn by looking at how the Europeans and Japanese handled global issues. Are they more open or less protective of their work? Is there something our country can learn from them? There is a weakness in our present system that we must get beyond. Ryder believed that these countries had dealt with the issue of terrorism for a much longer time than the United States. European countries have already developed security systems to protect themselves and yet they have not closed their borders. The United States tends to shut its borders in a protective mode and to not look beyond this for solutions. Has our government even asked the Europeans how they solved similar issues? We have asked them to cooperate, but we may not have asked them how they actually solved problems.
Another attendee asked about technology issues. How do companies in other countries protect their intellectual property? Ryder replied that one could gain a technological advantage by simply developing new technology at a faster pace than other companies. Someone else commented that part of the problem with ITAR was that it had been relatively successful during the cold war in keeping component technology out of the Soviet Union. This success makes it even more difficult to change the regulations now. The United States seemed to have forgotten what the purpose of ITAR was, Ryder said. Is that same purpose still serving the country now? Similarly, is the country evaluating whether its institutions are serving it as well as they once did? Newman