Let factual history be our guide. The Wright Brothers were the DIY winners in flight, not the wealthy machine-gun inventor, Maxim. Let Pierre be against “questioning of companies under ideological pretexts”, even EU criminally-convicted companies like Google. Let Rod hope Google to be winners in AWE, even if they are not.
On Alameda Island, in 2007, KiteShip sent me into the early Makani-Google circle to make an expert assessment of their aerospace-robotics mojo. I had breakfast with founder DonM at a local café, where we talked about glider-tow lockout, something he had never heard of. Later I rode a radical mutant chopper bike over to Makani’s US Navy airbase from KiteShip’s old North Sails loft (North NZ makes SkySails’ wings, small kite world).
Under pretext of being an old man taking a rather long time in the Head Quarters bathroom, I ninja-accessed Makani’s actual WWII War Room, and reviewed their grandiose planning charts, pathetic library of barely used MIT textbooks (Dave Culp’s KiteShip library was all gems), and so on. Returning to the party, I spoke with each Makani founder in turn. I literally had to chase the evasive SaulG around the base to probe his insight into autonomous UAS control architectures (“pitot tubes”, in gruff Aussie, was all he would say).
Back at KiteShip the same day, I reported Makani had zero actual aerospace or aviation background. Poor KiteShip, by comparison was magical, being taught by kite wild-men like DeanJ, couch-surfing with Peter Lynn, a field trip to NABX in the Mojave Desert, for examples. I did not know that Makani was buying out KiteShip, but had taken my NDA out of the files, as a precaution, which turned out to be smart when Makani later complained about me telling this story, but no NDA to enforce. If other GoogleX folks under NDA could talk, people like Rod would better know themselves as more the AWE winner-type.
Later in Leuven, 2011, an initially resentful CorwinH became a friend as we talked AWE long into the night in the pub district, after everyone else had retired. There was no premonition he would soon be dead, as we mapped out a broader Makani AWE research plan than the M5/M600 architecture only. It was Wubbo’s leadership influence bringing everyone together, but he also was soon dead.
What tragic fate! That’s why things have gone as they have, with folks still believing Google AWE hype, not caring about AWE militarization, and crappy insider venture capitalist ethics prevailing. Nevertheless, the actual winners in AWE will be those who master kites best.