February 12, 2018

Strategic Innovation and Great Power Competition

By Elsa B. Kania

At this time of disruptive transitions, the new U.S. National Defense Strategy rightly recognizes that the character of warfare is changing due to the advent of a range of disruptive technologies.[1,2] In particular, the strategy highlights rapid advances in advanced computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomy, robotics, directed energy, hypersonics, and biotechnology, which are characterized as “the very technologies that ensure we will be able to fight and win the wars of the future.”[3] The emergence of and unique convergences among these technologies could transform current paradigms of military power in uncertain, unpredictable ways. In addition, since commercial developments have been a primary driver of recent progress in many of these disparate technologies, the diffusion of advances will occur much more quickly and prove difficult to constrain, especially with the free exchange of ideas and talent across borders. In recent history, military-technical advantage has been a key pillar of U.S. military predominance. However, today’s trends, including China’s rapid emergence as a scientific powerhouse, seem unlikely to allow for the U.S. or perhaps any actor to achieve uncontested edge, and poor policy choices could lead to disadvantage.

Read the full article in Strategy Bridge.

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