How AI will change the global geopolitical order
Quickly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, and quantum computing will fundamentally shift the global balance of power.
Geopolitics is shaped and harnessed in a way that was not conceivable a decade ago.
Technological development and the use of data threaten to divide the global balance of power and shape the contours of geopolitical competition, further contributing to the securitization of technological competition.
The advent of the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” also pits emerging and incumbent powers against each other.
Instead of a “clash of civilizations,” we could be in for a “clash of automations.”
China, which has become a growing hub of tech innovation is primed for rivalry with the US, and to a lesser extent, the European Union and other global economies.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has opted to prioritized advanced technological development as part of its ‘Made in China 2025’ policy strategy, with the goal to reduce its dependence on foreign imports, while ascending the economic value chain and overcoming the Middle-Income Trap.
China aims to advance AI development in the country, with the goal of closing the AI tech gap with the US by 2030.
On the other hand, the US claims that China’s 2025 digital strategy has been established upon discriminatory and illegal global trade practices such as cyber espionage, forced technology transfer, and intellectual property theft.
The European Commission shares more cautious yet similar views labelling China’s digital strategy as “an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership” and “a systematic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”
It is critical to evaluate a country’s grand strategy in technology, not only the development itself but the kinds of regulations that shape the absorption of that technology into the socio-economic environment.
In the digital race, the geopolitical determinants of AI, big data, and 5G are critical to the global economy.
To monitor major rivals, states could arrive to the point of imposing further sovereign controls over the internet that balkanize cyberspace in line with physical borders.
Governments afraid of losing their technological competitive advantage could also impose new restrictions on market access, trade, intellectual property and capital flows hence fragmenting the global supply chains and stifle growth.