The United States innovation ecosystem was seemingly 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. Not for a lack of opportunities — there are more opportunities for innovation than ever before, from green energy to artificial intelligence, to IoT technology and semiconductors. In the end, American primacy may not be the express desired end-state, but without any doubt, as that dominant role is diminished, so are 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, as it is driven and run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Over the past several years, the CCP 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), the 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. This will result in tec(h)tonic shifts.
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 — and must American companies, society and government begin their adaptation to that future now?