Atlantic Council releases landmark recommendations on the geopolitical impacts of new technologies

Astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Diaz works with a grapple fixture during extravehicular activity to perform work on the International Space Station (Source: NASA via Unsplash

Findings based on study groups of US government officials and senior figures in tech industry

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 26, 2021 – The Atlantic Council’s bipartisan Commission on the Geopolitical Impacts of New Technologies and Data today released a landmark report proposing recommendations for the US government and like-minded allies on global technology and data development policy.

The report’s recommendations are designed to maintain US and allied leadership in science and technology; ensure the trustworthiness and resilience of physical and IT supply chains, infrastructures, and the digital economy at large; improve global health protection; assure commercial space operations for public benefit; and create a digitally fluent and resilient workforce.

The report was developed over months of intensive study and debate by an esteemed panel of commissioners comprised of senior representatives from Congress, academia, industry, and former officials from recent administrations. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) served as honorary co-chairs of the commission. John Goodman, Chief Executive Officer of Accenture Federal Services, and Teresa Carlson, President and Chief Growth Officer of Splunk, served as co-chairs. The commission was housed within the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, which was launched in 2020 to champion positive paths forward to ensure new technologies and data empower people, prosperity, and peace.

Today’s report comes amid the “GeoTech Decade,” in which new technologies and data capabilities will have an outsized impact on geopolitics, economics, and global governance. However, no nation or international organization has created the appropriate governance structures needed to grapple with the complex and destabilizing dynamics of emerging technologies. As a result, new approaches are required for developing and deploying critical technologies, cultivating human capital, rebuilding trust in domestic and global governance, and establishing norms for international cooperation.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Global science and technology leadership: Develop a National & Economic Security Technology Strategy
  • Secure data and communications: Strengthen the National Cyber Strategy Implementation Plan and accelerate quantum information science technologies operationalization
  • Enhanced Trust and Confidence in the Digital Economy: Demonstrate AI improvements to delivery of public- and private-services
  • Assured Supply Chains and System Resiliency: Broaden federal oversight of supply chain assurance
  • Continuous Global Health Protection and Global Wellness: Launch a global pandemic surveillance and warning system
  • Assured Space Operations for Public Benefit: Harden security of commercial space industry facilities and space assets
  • Future of Work: Create the workforce for the GeoTech Decade and equitable access to opportunity

“The work of the bipartisan GeoTech Commission was 14 months in the making, representing the consensus of public and private sector leaders on practical steps forward for Congress, the White House, private industry, academia, and like-minded nations,” said Dr. David Bray, director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center. “The sophisticated, but potentially fragile, data and tech systems that now connect people and nations mean we must incorporate resiliency as a necessary foundational pillar of modern life. It is imperative that we promote strategic initiatives that employ data and tech to amplify the ingenuity of people, diversity of talent, strength of democratic values, innovation of companies, and reach of global partnerships.”

“The U.S. stands at a crossroads. New technologies and ready access to data offer exciting opportunities to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Yet there are also risks that threaten to undermine peace and prosperity in unanticipated ways,” said John Goodman, CEO of Accenture Federal Services. “For the US and its partners to remain economically competitive and protect national security, we must work together to build trust in the digital fabric of the GeoTech decade. We must act now to invest in these new technologies, to develop and expand our skilled workforce, and to establish norms to ensure that technology emerges as a powerful force for good.”

“The GeoTech Decade impacts all countries, people, communities, and businesses from global safety to security and more,” said Teresa Carlson, President, and Chief Growth Officer at Splunk. “The recommendations in this independent report are necessary for innovation in the years to come. With bi-partisan buy-in from U.S. Congress and top industry leaders, executing on these seven areas will help us combine the data and technologies required for success in this new age.”

“We’re in the midst of a titanic technological shift, from IT modernization to artificial intelligence, as organizations from all industries look to harness the power of data to solve complex challenges,” said Max Peterson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services. “Advanced computing systems, faster and higher-bandwidth communications networks, and increasingly sophisticated technologies are digitizing the information around us and transforming the way we live, learn, and do business. Together, government and the private sector should work to ensure we grasp the innovative opportunities before us in ways that promote security, trust, and inclusion.”

Commission on the Geopolitical Impacts of New Technologies and Data

Co-Chairs:
John Goodman, Chief Executive Officer, Accenture Federal Services
Teresa Carlson, President and Chief Growth Officer, Splunk

Honorary Co-Chairs:
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA)
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX)

Commissioners:
Max R. Peterson II, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
Paul Daugherty, Chief Executive – Technology & Chief Technology Officer, Accenture
Maurice Sonnenberg, Guggenheim Securities
Michael Chertoff, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
Michael J. Rogers, Former Chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Pascal Marmier, Head, Economy of Trust Foundation, SICPA
Ramayya Krishnan, PhD, Director, Block Center for Technology and Society, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Susan M. Gordon, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer & “Father of the Internet”
Zia Khan, PhD, Vice President for Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation
Anthony Scriffignano, PhD, Senior Vice President, Chief Data Scientist at Dun & Bradstreet Corporation
Frances F. Townsend, Executive Vice President, Activision Blizzard
Admiral James Stavridis, USN, Ret.

Executive Director:
David Bray, PhD, Director, GeoTech Center, The Atlantic Council

The Commission on the Geopolitical Impacts of New Technologies and Data was made possible by support from Accenture Federal Services and Amazon Web Services. The report’s full findings and recommendations can be found here.

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