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Cold War: The Tech Race

Second, in its race to dominate the global AI and semiconductor industries, China has made clear that it views international companies not as partners, but as means to an end in a quest for domestic self-reliance. Chinese intelligence operatives have been arrested for trying to steal key semiconductor technology information not only from the United States, but from many of our key allies. Similarly, frequent Chinese government-backed cyber-attacks are a major concern for U.S. allies. This most recent package of export controls is almost certain to make China more aggressive in its efforts, which should be persuasive evidence to U.S. allies that these types of controls are necessary.

Cold War: The Tech Race

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The Artificial Intelligence Cold War (AI Cold War) is a narrative in which tensions between the United States and the People's Republic of China lead to a second Cold War waged in the area of artificial intelligence technology rather than in the areas of nuclear capabilities or ideology.[1]The context of the AI Cold War narrative is the AI arms race, which involves a build-up of military capabilities using AI technology by the US and China.A key area of concern in the tensions between China and the US are semiconductors because of their key role of semiconductors for the competitiveness of the AI industry.

The term AI Cold War first appeared in 2018 in an article in Wired magazine by Nicholas Thompson and Ian Bremmer.[2] The two authors trace the emergence of the AI Cold War narrative to 2017, when China published its AI Development Plan, which included a strategy aimed at becoming the global leader in AI by 2030. While the authors acknowledge the use of AI by China to strengthen its authoritarian rule, they warn against the perils for the US of engaging in an AI Cold War strategy. Thompson and Bremmer rather advocate for a technological cooperation between the US and China to encourage global standards in privacy and ethical use of AI.

With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and subsequent lunar missions, many events and activities were planned around the United States, including a gala hosted by NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in July 2019. The film First Man tells the story of Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong at a very personal level. We can now take a look back and see how the technological know-how required to support the space race essentially built the modern world as we know it today. Life would be unimaginable without these many advancements that we now take for granted.

Technology from the space race has also been applied to directly improve public safety and reduce the risk of accident and injury. Anti-icing systems allow aircraft to safely fly in cold weather. Safety grooving, which first was used to reduce aircraft accidents on wet runways, is now also used on our roadways to prevent car accidents. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were first developed for the NASA Skylab program in the 1970s. Modern firefighting equipment widely used throughout the United States is based on NASA-developed lightweight fireproof materials.

The Cuban missile crisis of 16-28 October 1962 was a pivotal point in the Cold War. The close brush with nuclear conflict changed both the nature of the stand-off, the economic and technological strategies behind it, and even the way they used technology to communicate. The Cold War was originally a military stand-off, but it became an economic and technical race.

The story of what could be termed the ICT technology race between the two opposing superpowers starts before the missile crisis, with the efforts of the USSR to catch up the West after the Second World War. In 1945, USSR production of electronics was insignificant. By 1955 it was the second largest producer in the world after the US. In America there'was also'concern about a 'missile gap', with the US thought to be lagging well behind the USSR - and Khrushchev worsened the fear by talking about producing missiles like 'sausages'.

However, with the changeover of Politbureau membership there would be even more focus put on the technology race. Mutually-assured destruction kept the world's great powers away from direct conflict, but the emphasis stayed on boosting Soviet performance in microelectronics and computing. Their importance to Cold War military operations grew as weaponry became increasingly dependent on electronics and computing technology.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Driving the news: A report this weekend that China had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile immediately drew comparisons to the Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite, which raised alarms that the U.S. was falling behind in a technology race.

Space Technology As part of the arms race with the Soviet Union, the United States poured billions of dollars into their space program, partly for strategic purposes of satellite surveillance, but also for the symbolic power of beating the Russians to outer space. While the Soviets implemented the first man-made satellite into orbit in Sputnik, the Americans were the first to put a man on the moon with the lunar landing of Apollo 11. Today, GPS technology is completely dependent upon satellites that were developed due to the space race pandemonium of the Cold War.

The only geopolitical actor actively working on limiting the negative externalities of a free-for-all technological race is the European Union. In recent years, the EU has tried to solve some of the most complex challenges when it comes to protecting user privacy, fighting malign disinformation or trying to restrain unlawful digital surveillance. The Old Continent has made an ambitious attempt to pioneer the golden global standard when it comes to legislation for the digital domain.

There is a growing possibility that we might see the European Union losing the technological race in the foreseeable future. Why is this a potentially catastrophic scenario for the economic bloc? First, the EU would lose its ability to influence global tech policy and prevent a race to the bottom when it comes to AI-enhanced surveillance, the unrestricted exporting of dual use technological items or the proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons. The global system will be heavily tipped toward either a more authoritarian or an unregulated Wild West scenario on the digital front. This would also mean that vital cooperation between global actors holding advanced cyber capabilities would become extremely difficult, which is a serious security risk on its own.

The fifth, and possibly the most important, area is the race to build the first large-scale quantum computer. By using subatomic particles and the principles of quantum physics to process data, quantum computers will easily outperform the fastest supercomputers in solving complex mathematical puzzles. They will also be able to unlock in a matter of seconds virtually every public encryption system the world uses today. Last year, China started building a $10 billion facility in Anhui Province to develop quantum technology for both military and civilian uses. Chinese IT giants including Alibaba and Huawei are part of the national quantum-computer-development effort, and Chinese applications for patents in quantum technology, particularly quantum-encryption technology, have increased dramatically this year.

While the headlines may be dominated by tariffs, there are other major issues regarding the technology industry that further complicate the US view of its trade relations with China and are shaping its policies. They include treatment of intellectual property, access to markets for digital services, and government intervention in support of national champions in strategic sectors such as semiconductors. These issues are all arising within a context of heightened cybersecurity concerns and a race for global leadership in critical new technologies, such as 5G cellular networks and artificial intelligence.

The chip cold war The Biden administration is fighting a phantom technology cold war. In the past, under the guise of national security, the U.S. and others have deployed export control laws to try to prevent bad actor nations from obtaining key parts of weapons already in use today.

Of all the scientific and technological advances made during World War II, few receive as much attention as the atomic bomb. Developed in the midst of a race between the Axis and Allied powers during the war, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve as notable markers to the end of fighting in the Pacific. While debates over the decision to use atomic weapons on civilian populations continue to persist, there is little dispute over the extensive ways the atomic age came to shape the twentieth century and the standing of the United States on the global stage. Competition for dominance propelled both the United States and the Soviet Union to manufacture and hold as many nuclear weapons as possible. From that arms race came a new era of science and technology that forever changed the nature of diplomacy, the size and power of military forces, and the development of technology that ultimately put American astronauts on the surface of the moon.

The DSR is part of a larger tech race which could divide the world into at least two systems: one operating with Chinese products and standards, the other with Western products and standards. Separate systems could face interoperability issues and challenges with cross border data flows or become subject to geopolitical fractures that force countries to choose political sides when they choose tech systems. Or, countries may have to build infrastructure to accommodate both systems, at great expense, which could undermine many of the trade efficiencies that would otherwise be achieved by these technologies. 041b061a72


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