A New Technological Cold War?


Technology has emerged as a central front in competition among the United States and its two principal geopolitical rivals, China and Russia. From 5G communications to artificial intelligence, quantum computing, autonomous weapons, and clean energy, new and emerging technologies can provide considerable strategic and economic opportunities while reshaping societies and relations among states.

In an effort to explore this important topic, the Center for the National Interest and our friends at the Energy Innovation Reform Project are launching our Great Power Technology Competition webinar series. The first seminar took place on October 21, 2020 and assembled a panel of world-class experts to assess the role of technology competition during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War rivalry, the similarities and differences between that experience and the U.S.-China competition today, and the ongoing technology competition with China and Russia:

Robert Atkinson is the Founder and President of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and the author of three books on innovation, business, and global competition. He has previously served  as co-chair of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s China-U.S. Innovation Policy Experts Group, as a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and on the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information. Earlier in his career, he was a project director at the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. 

George Beebe is Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for the National Interest and a former career CIA intelligence analyst. A former director of the CIA’s Russia analysis, he has also served as a special advisor to then Vice President Dick Cheney. He is the author of the book The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Catastrophe.

Paul Heer is Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the National Interest and was National Intelligence Officer for East Asia from 2007 to 2015. He was the Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at MIT’s Center for International Studies during 2015-2016 and later served as Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

Paul Saunders, President of the Energy Innovation Reform Project, a Senior Fellow and member of the Board of Directors at the Center for the National Interest, and former senior advisor at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, served as the moderator for this event.