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Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jeff Bezos Join Defense Innovation Board

July 26, 2016 (Photo Credit: Cindy Ord)

WASHINGTON — Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Amazon head Jeff Bezos and former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein are among the newest names to join Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s new Defense Innovation Advisory Board.

Carter announced those names as part of a list of ten new members for the board, which he created in March to advise the Pentagon on technology innovation issues. The board is headed by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, the Google parent company.

The board, Carter said in his speech, is “charged with keeping DoD imbued with a culture of innovation in people, organizations, operations, and technology, to support people who innovate, those creative figures in our department who are willing to try new things, fail fast, and iterate; and also to ensure that we’re always doing everything we can to stay ahead of potential adversaries.”

The board now includes the following members:

  • Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Alphabet Inc. (DIAB chair)
  • Jeff Bezos, president, chairman and CEO, Amazon Inc.
  • Adam Grant, professor, Wharton School of Business
  • Danny Hillis, computer theorist and co-founder, Applied Inventions
  • Reid Hoffman, co-founder, LinkedIn; and partner, Greylock Partners
  • Walter Isaacson, president and CEO, Aspen Institute
  • Eric Lander, president and founding director, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • Marne Levine, chief operating officer, Instagram
  • J. Michael McQuade, senior vice president for science and technology, United Technologies
  • William McRaven, chancellor, University of Texas System
  • Milo Medin, vice president, Access Services, Google Capital
  • Richard Murray, professor, California Institute of Technology
  • Jennifer Pahlka, founder, Code for America
  • Cass Sunstein, professor, Harvard Law School
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist

Hoffman, Isaacson and McRaven had all previously been announced as members of the board.

But the biggest names are Tyson, arguably the face of popular science around the world today, and Bezos, the Amazon founder who also owns The Washington Post. Bezos is also the head of Blue Origin, a space launch company working with the United Launch Alliance to develop a new engine for military launch.

Although not as flashy a name as some of the others, the inclusion of McQuade is notable, as United Technologies is the only legacy defense contractor involved in the board.

The board will work over the summer before providing initial recommendations to Carter by October.

Email: amehta@defensenews.com

Twitter: @AaronMehta

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