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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Warns China Could Cripple US Military, Economy

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A new report from a US think tank chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is raising alarm bells over China’s potential to win the technology race and in the process cripple the US economy and military.

Entitled “Mid-Decade Challenges to National Competitiveness(Opens in a new window),” the report was compiled by the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP)(Opens in a new window) think tank over a period of 10 months (Oct. 2021 to Aug. 2022). During that time, four board meetings and 26 panel meetings were held with more than 225 experts including “government officials, technologists, academic leaders.” The conclusions make for stark reading, suggesting that microeletcronics, artificial intelligence, and 5G are “destiny-shaping technology” for the US between now and 2030.

The report states that those three areas of technology “tell the story of a nation (and its allies) coming perilously and unwittingly close to ceding the strategic technology landscape and along with it the capacity to shape the future.” That’s because the US economy, society, and national security all rely on them, which is why China gaining dominance in these areas is viewed as so dangerous.

The US government is taking a much harder line towards China and its access to advanced technology this year, and as The Register reports(Opens in a new window), this new report helps make it very clear why.

In a section entitled “What Does Losing Look Like?” The worst case scenario seems to be a situation where China takes control of Taiwan and cuts off the supply of rare earth minerals to the US, which would mean, “America’s military is crippled, and the nation is plunged into a depression,” and “Americans are forced to live in a world where China can turn off the technology tap.”

So what is the solution to prevent this from happening? The SCSP believes 2025-2030 is the critical period where China must succeed in bolstering its military capabilities while executing its “techno-economic strategy.” The US can counter that by solving six challenges detailed in the report, which are:

  1. Harness innovation across commercial, academic, and government sectors to build an advantage in critical technologies.
  2. Use government intervention and investment to bring technology hardware manufacturing back to the US.
  3. Sort out AI governance while also allowing for technology breakthroughs and their swift implementation to improve lives and gain an advantage in many sectors.
  4. Double-down on technological solutions and standards to keep the internet open, interoperable, and secure.
  5. Adopt a new military strategy referred to as “Offset-X” and focused on “distributed and networked operations, human-machine collaboration, human-machine teaming, primacy in software-centric warfare, resilience, and greater technological interoperability and interchangeability with allies and partners.”
  6. Perform a digital transformation in the US Intelligence Community by leveraging “dedicated, tech-driven, open source organization” and creating new capacities for capturing foreign economic, financial, and tech intelligence.

The reports concludes by stating:

“As the world enters another disruptive technological age, the United States faces a rival in China that is already pivoting and positioning to dominate a similar slate of “deep tech” and “frontier tech.” Whether the United States can rise to the occasion and harness the promise of the pending wave of revolutionary technologies will determine who wins the 21st century.”

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