Scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations are often subject to public discussion about their capacity to affect international security, either by their military exploitation or their uptake and re-appropriation through non-state actors and terrorists. While accompanying proliferation and militarisation concerns are not new, the challenge of governing emerging technologies is as much about their often-unknown technical affordances as the way in which they capture the imagination of innovators, policy-makers, and public communities.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Cloud Computing (ABC) have generated unprecedented opportunities and challenges for economic competitiveness, national security, and law and order, as well as the future of work. ABC policies and practices have become contentious issues in U.S.-China bilateral relations. Pundits see a U.S.-China AI race and are already debating which country will win. Kaifu Lee, the CEO of Sinovation Ventures, believes that China will exceed the United States in AI in about five years.1 Others argue that China will never catch up.2 This essay focuses on two issues: the comparative ABC strengths of the United States and China in data and research and development (R&D); and the emerging ABC policies and practices in the two nations. Empirical analysis suggests that the United States and China lead in different areas. Compared to China’s top-down, whole-of-government, national- strategy approach, the U.S. ABC policy has been less articulated but is evolving.
This graphic outlines the rising number of international students enrolled at US universities since 1999. To find out what this trend could mean for the transfer of specialized knowledge from Western countries to emerging nations – particularly regarding the West’s military-technological superiority – see Michael Haas’ chapter in Strategic Trends 2019 here. For more CSS charts and graphics, click here.
For more than a year, debate has raged over allegations that the Chinese military is taking advantage of Google’s research and expansion into China. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a senate committee in March that Google’s work in China indirectly benefits the Chinese military, an accusation echoed by President Donald Trump. Google’s response was unequivocal: ‘We are not working with the Chinese military.’
Speaking about his politically embattled company’s chances to build national 5G networks, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei recently told the BBC, ‘If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South.’
He’s right. Unless something changes in the near future, Huawei is going to win the fight for 5G in the developing world.