Throughout much of the 20th century, the United States led the world in technological innovation, with the new systems and industries arising from this leadership driving sustained economic growth and underpinning US global military capabilities. In many ways, technology innovation and all that came from it was at the heart of America’s ability to become (and remain) a global leader. Today, however, America’s preeminent role in driving innovation—and leading the world—is being threatened, if not wholly undermined.
Rapid developments in emerging technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing, as well as the global spread of distributed computing and other advanced technologies, carry the potential to drastically disrupt industry, economies, and the current world order. Adversarial nation-states can use US-driven innovation acquired through legitimate or illegitimate means and our reliance on highly connected technologies to their advantage and to our disadvantage across a range of areas, including economically, politically, and socially. And today, the private sector – not the US government – develops many critical national security technologies and these companies are able to share their innovation with a range of global actors.