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How Democracies Can Win the Tech Race

Winning the race for future technologies demands a united front. That is why the United States and the European Union must continue to shape standards and regulations in emerging sectors, while also joining forces on research and development programs and large “moonshot” projects.

ARLINGTON/BERLIN – The world is on the precipice of a technological cold war. As authoritarian regimes develop new digital tools that endanger open societies and threaten democratic values, the West must decide whether to compete or concede. Today, the battle for freedom is being fought in Ukraine; but the frontline could one day be in Taiwan, a global technology hub, producing the world’s most advanced microchips, and a flourishing democracy less than 100 miles off the coast of China, which seems bent on annexing the island.

Winning the race for future technologies demands a united front. Just as the West came together to deter Soviet expansionism and stop the spread of communism in the postwar period, the United States and the European Union must revitalize the transatlantic alliance to win the competition for global tech leadership. That means developing a new joint strategy, pooling resources and capabilities, streamlining regulations, and leveraging their strengths – such as advanced tools for semiconductors and lasers, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and genomics in Europe, and fusion energy, commercial space operations, and synthetic biology in the US.

It will also be necessary to build resilient supply chains. With China dominating the supply of metals and rare-earth elements necessary for batteries, semiconductors, and other technologies, the US and the EU are sleepwalking into a critical-minerals crisis. For example, China’s market share of high-powered permanent magnets for offshore wind turbines is nearly 90%.