The near-century long stretch of American innovation dominance is facing an unprecedented challenge. The United States innovation ecosystem appeared unparalleled until the 2010s, with an seemingly endless stream of funding and support for research and development coming from both the public and private sectors. In recent years, however, American primacy in technological R&D has faced significant challenges and ever more impressive challengers. While American primacy may not be the express desired end-state, as that dominant role diminishes, so do the balancing forces for global security and stability.
The United States is at the brink of yielding its technological edge to other competitors — particularly, the People’s Republic of China. Over the past several years, the PRC has massively increased investment in technological R&D across a broad array of sectors in an attempt to close the technological gap between themselves and the United States. Coupled with the CCP’s key strategic plans (including the Made in 2025 Initiative, China’s AI Policy, and China Standards 2035), a clear strategy and vision to overtake the United States’ innovation advantage is unmistakable — the United States must actively pursue a role as a balancing technological innovation force. For some, decoupling is a solution, but a race to the bottom can prove to be both difficult and dangerous — which means the United States, from the ground up, must push harder for strategic objectives from which to orient its R&D and planning for the 21st Century.
IST is embarking on a series of futures-based narratives to anticipate an increasingly likely scenario where China is the dominant global power — technologically, economically, and militarily. In a world where American tech primacy is no longer ensured, it is well worth an exploration of the global innovation landscape without the advantages the United States has enjoyed over the past century.
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