A year into a new digital normal caused by the pandemic – and well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a new picture of the relationship between technology and geopolitics is emerging. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G capabilities are fast becoming the frontlines of either global competition or coordination. These developments are leading to a need for global norms and protocols to accelerate the benefits and mitigate the risks of these new technologies.
The value of frontier technologies is high. 5G alone is projected to generate $13 trillion in global economic value and 22 million jobs by 2035. And artificial intelligence is projected to add over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. That China and the United States have announced or are considering large investments in these fields sends a clear signal of the significant geostrategic role these technologies will play in the near future.
Importantly, technology does not need to be an ingredient for global rivalry. The forging of green technology partnerships in the Middle East between former adversaries is just one example of how innovation can serve as a fabric for strengthening cross-border coordination.