September 22, 2021

Unite technodemocracies

By Richard Fontaine and Jared Cohen

The contours of transatlantic technological cooperation are beginning to emerge. In June, G7 leaders released a joint statement that addresses issues of artificial intelligence and standard setting. The United States and the European Union have created a Trade and Technology Council, and NATO is establishing a new mechanism and a new technology cooperation fund. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic increasingly recognize the need for like-minded democracies to join forces, at a time when tech-driven autocracies are asserting themselves.

Technology has become a central element in today's geopolitical competition. Yet there is still no coordination forum among the world's technodemocracies: nations with advanced technological sectors, advanced economies and commitments to liberal democratic values. We have proposed the formation of a new multilateral forum, T12, which would bring together the 12 main technodemocracies in order to harmonize their approaches to technological policy. In view of the progress made by the main autocracies, moving forward with a technodemocratic cooperation mechanism is a diplomatic imperative.

Technology has become a central element in today's geopolitical competition. Yet there is still no coordination forum among the world's technodemocracies.

China is at the forefront of this autocratic advance. Beijing has surpassed the capabilities of democratic nations in critical areas like 5G, digital payments, quantum communications, and the commercial drone market. Russia has also taken note of China's modus operandi , and competition between technoautocracies and technodemocracies has not only entered European cyberspace, but brought it to the gates of Europe. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are exporting tools for surveillance and social control, including through Cloudwalk's facial recognition technology, now deployed in sub-Saharan Africa. Beijing also uses multilateral frameworks to disseminate its own standards.

Transatlantic cooperation is at the heart of the forum we are offering to turn the tide and secure liberal democracy in the digital age. Of the original members, five - France, Germany, UK, Finland and Sweden - are in Europe. The other natural participants - Australia, Canada, South Korea, Israel, India and Japan - have close ties with Europe and the United States, notably through membership of the Japan at the G7. Prospective members have a deep track record of trust and collaboration, asymmetric advantages that technoautocracies lack.

Read the full article from Le Grand Continent.

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