Soon after Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of America's House of Representatives, left Taiwan on Aug 3, China launched war games around the island, which it claims as its own. A sabre-rattling response to Mrs Pelosi's intentionally provocative act, these were also a dry run for a bid to reunify Taiwan with the mainland by force, which China does not rule out. Troubling, then, for Taiwan and its Western backers, that in American simulations of the conflict the Chinese side often prevails. One congressional report in 2018 warned that America could plausibly face a "decisive military defeat" against China in a battle over Taiwan.
Since then China has continued to chip away at American military superiority, including its technological edge. Pushing that edge is therefore a priority for the Department of Defence (DOD). And that would be easier if America's world-beating software developers worked more closely with its equally formidable arms makers, thinks Michael Brown, who heads the Department's Defence Innovation Unit.