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A Proactive National Technology Strategy in the Great Power Competition with China

The co-authors of a recent article in Foreign Affairs, America Could Lose the Tech Contest With China, Eric Schmidt and Yll Bajraktari, are Chair and CEO of the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP), respectively. The SCSP “builds on the work of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), which ended its congressionally-mandated work in October 2021.  NSCAI made recommendations to the President and Congress to “advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.”

The SCSP is a bipartisan, non-profit initiative with a clear mission: to make recommendations to strengthen America’s long-term competitiveness for a future where artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies reshape our national security, economy, and society…to ensure that America is positioned and organized to win the techno-economic competition between now and 2030, the critical window for shaping the future.” (1)

Schmidt and Bajraktari begin their article by itemizing what they call the “reactive approach…on the technological battlefield” to the Chinese challenge to date:

  • Passage of the CHIPS and Science Act “only after a supply-chain crisis had roiled the U.S. economy for two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after the Pentagon had warned that it had become dependent on East Asian suppliers for 98 percent of the commercial chips it uses.
  • In 2019…a diplomatic campaign to thwart China’s bid to dominate the world’s 5G infrastructure. But that was only after the massively state-subsidized Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE undercut major Western competitors, seemingly cemented positions in the communications networks of U.S. allies, and flooded the zone in standard-setting bodies; and
  • Last year, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (on which both of us served) delivered its final report, but that report came out four years after China had already launched its national strategy on artificial intelligence, which generated billions in new funding, identified national-champion companies, and integrated AI into Beijing’s military-civil fusion strategy.” (1)

The author’s diagnosis of the root cause of the problem is aligned with the drivers behind the recent launch of America’s Frontier Fund and the Quad Investor Network (with which Eric Schmidt is also affiliated) and maps to many of the recent “Deep Tech” and “Valley of Death” discussions here at OODA Loop.

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Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira is research director at OODA. He is a foresight strategist, creative technologist, and an information communication technology (ICT) and digital media researcher with 20+ years of experience directing public/private partnerships and strategic innovation initiatives.