By: Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Raphael Piliero

What is the kernel of the issue?

Emerging technologies (such as quantum computing, lethal autonomous weapons, hypersonics, and directed energy weapons) will be critical in future conflicts, with the potential to tilt the balance of power toward revisionist states. New revolutionary technology could upend the balance of power, especially if these capabilities give Russia and China an enhanced military edge over the United States and its allies.

Why is the issue important?

Rapid shifts in the balance of power result in instability and an increased risk of escalation. Emerging technologies have the potential to benefit revisionist states at the expense of the United States by offering low-cost, asymmetric means to offset conventional advantages. For example, an adversary could use additive manufacturing to a large number of low-cost autonomous drones, deploying “drone swarms” that overwhelm US defenses. This could favor Russia or China in a fait accompli attack in the Baltics or Taiwan, respectively.

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should maintain a technological advantage to keep the balance of power and contribute to peace and stability. This will require investing resources into research and development and creating policies such as export controls on emerging technologies.

Related Experts: Matthew Kroenig and Mark J. Massa