A global "technology war" that will likely shape U.S. economic and national security well into the twenty-first century is emerging. Many technologies have become the focus of this war, with winners and losers are already beginning to emerge. At this point, the United States finds itself at a distinct disadvantage.
Ironically, the seeds of this emerging conflict were inadvertently sown by the United States. The world has seen the impact of technology—how it has led to the buildup of significant wealth and overwhelming military capacity with global reach. With approximately one-quarter of the global gross domestic product and military spending that exceeds the spending of the next seven nations combined, the United States became what some have labelled the world's "hyperpower." And others want in, which has meant growing competition and now an emerging tech war.
The recent revelation that China’s security services had successfully compromised the servers of thousands of leading tech' firms cloud computing platforms has sent shockwaves through the tech world. The hardware hack may have compromised some of the most sensitive computer systems used by the military and intelligence services. While the scope and sophistication of the operations were alarming, it was no surprise to some in national security circles.
This month, Congress is debating the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act. One of the most difficult defense issues on the table has nothing to do with new weapons systems, force structure or personnel. The bill includes a plan for changing the interagency process for vetting foreign investment and reforms to the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). CFIUS reviews and can stop foreign investment in what are deemed to be critical industries to national security. CFIUS has come under increasing scrutiny as China has invested heavily in the U.S. tech sector and many fear are attempting to buy or steal the crown jewels of U.S. technology.
A top Air Force commander has assured reporters that no, the military's experiments with artificial intelligence are not the first step toward “Skynet,” the evil defense network in the “Terminator” movies that tried to wipe out humanity.