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Building a Democratic High-Tech Alliance

Digital divergence between the United States and the European Union has helped China and other autocracies as they forge ahead with developing new technologies and establishing rules and norms. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic must now build a technological alliance of democracies to set more favorable global rules.

COPENHAGEN – One of the existential challenges facing the free world today is its disunity over emerging technologies. Divergence between the United States and the European Union in this area has helped China and other autocratic regimes as they forge ahead with developing new tools and establishing rules and norms that will guide many aspects of our lives, economies, and security for generations. Russian President Vladimir Putin is absolutely right: “Whoever becomes the leader in this [artificial intelligence] sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

US President Joe Biden’s agenda for strengthening democracy at home and abroad presents an opportunity to close this strategic gap. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic must seize it, and build a technological alliance of democracies that will win the digital race and set the global rules in our mold.

In their election platform, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pledged to convene a global “Summit for Democracy” later this year. It’s an excellent idea, and mirrors the Copenhagen Democracy Summit that the Alliance of Democracies Foundation has organized annually since 2018 – with Biden himself delivering the first keynote address. But several questions remain regarding the format of Biden’s summit, whether more wayward democracies will be invited, and what concrete tasks participants might agree to take forward from the meeting itself.

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