I often think about the tragedy of the commons--both in life and in technology. It's a powerful metaphor, first described by Garrett Hardin in a 1968 article in Science. Briefly, it says that a shared resource is inevitably ruined by uncontrolled use.

In the classic example, I have a cow, and there's this nice patch of grass in a nearby park. I see my neighbors taking their cows over to the park to graze. I know somewhere in the back of my mind that all the grass in the commons is going to get eaten by all these cows, but everyone else is doing it, and I want to get the grass for my cow before it's all gone. So off I go with my cow, doing my part to help destroy the commons.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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