Tue, Jul 7, 2020

Emerging technologies: new challenges to global stability

In-Depth Research & Reports by Robert A. Manning

China Cybersecurity Defense Technologies Drones Energy Transitions European Union Future of Work India International Norms International Organizations Internet Internet of Things National Security Non-Traditional Threats Russia Space Security United States and Canada

Cover image: ThisisEngineering RAEng, Unsplash

The world may be fast approaching the perfect storm, with the intersection of two major global trends. At a moment of historic transition, when the post-WWII and post-Cold War international order is eroding amid competing visions of world order and renewed geopolitical rivalries, the world is also in the early stages of an unprecedented technological transformation. It promises to be a period of exponential change, the second—and far more disruptive—chapter of the digital revolution that began with the Internet in the 1990s. Historically, technology usually races ahead of institutions, rules, and norms. The extraordinary magnitude of change at a time of global institutional fraying and disorder, however, portends a particularly dangerous gap in global governance impacting economies, societies, and the future of war.

Substantially more technology-driven change will take place during the coming two decades than in the first ICT (information and communications technology)-based revolution, with profound social, economic, and geopolitical ramifications. This new wave is a convergence of technologies, a digital synergy of artificial intelligence (AI), big data (the cloud), robotics, biotech/biosciences, three-dimensional (3D) printing, advanced manufacturing, new materials, fifth-generation (5G) powering the Internet of Things (IoT), nanoengineering and nanomanufacturing, and, over the horizon, quantum computing. It is a still thickening merger of the digital and physical economies (called “online-to-offline,” or O2O), transforming business models, transport, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, agriculture, warfare, and the very nature of work itself.

As a practical matter, as these technologies are deployed over the coming decades, they will bring about accelerating economic and geopolitical change beginning in the 2020s. For example, using AI powered by superfast 5G technology (up to one hundred times faster than the current 4G), the Internet of Things (IoT) will monitor and manage farms, factories, and smart cities. The increased productivity of ICT-connected sensors will warn of factory equipment needing maintenance; monitor energy use in buildings; give farmers real-time information on soil conditions; maintain and operate driverless vehicles; optimize energy-grid performance; and monitor remotely and diagnose individuals’ health, with gene editing, engineering the demise of malaria-carrying mosquitos, and perhaps erasing hereditary DNA to eliminate horrific diseases. In the national security realm, AI, 5G, and the IoT portend radical changes in missions from logistics and inventory management to surveillance and reconnaissance with air and undersea drones of all sizes and with autonomous capabilities.

The full text of the paper is split across the various articles linked below. Readers can browse in any order. To download a PDF version, use the button below.

Tue, Jul 7, 2020

I. The emerging tech revolution

Technological advancements in fields ranging from AI to biotech are already rapidly changing existing economic, social and geopolitical arrangements. How well nations are able to innovate and adapt will play a large role in determining their standing in the decades ahead.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Robert A. Manning

Tue, Jul 7, 2020

Will AI and robots kill jobs?

New technologies are being rolled out across the world at a pace that outstrips our ability to comprehend their implications. Concerns over the death of jobs may be overblown, but the need to understand and mitigate the risks presented by emerging technologies remains.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Robert A. Manning

Tue, Jul 7, 2020

National security impact

Technological change throughout history shaped and reshaped the strategy, tactics, and the character of war. Today’s emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize warfighting, while also posing new challenges to strategic stability across increasingly contested global commons—air, sea, cyber, and space.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Robert A. Manning

Tue, Jul 7, 2020

II. The governance conundrum

As the challenges posed by emerging disruptive technologies become clear, so too does the troubling deficit of global governance. The fraying of existing institutions and the resurgence of major-power competition only exacerbate this governance challenge.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Robert A. Manning

Tue, Jul 7, 2020

AI: preventing the coming storm

Developing ethical principles, standards, and norms governing AI is perhaps the most imperative governance challenge for the coming decade. In particular, the risks posed by AI and autonomous weapons require a rethinking of what constitutes a durable framework for strategic stability.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Robert A. Manning

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