In the race for control over crucial 21st-century technologies, China is poised to overcome the United States. The United States may have already lost the race in some of these areas.
Four top academics from Harvard Kennedy Institution, the university’s public policy school, came to this conclusion in recent research titled “The Great Tech Rivalry: China vs. the US.” The authors compared the US versus China in a variety of key technologies that will define the twenty-first century, including artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, quantum information science (QIS), semiconductors, biotechnology, and green energy.
China has already gained domination in some races, such as 5G and quantum information science, according to the research. In other disciplines, current trends indicate that it will surpass the United States within the next ten years.
The article begins by quoting a 1999 prediction made by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in the United States. According to the Academy, the world is on the verge of an unparalleled technological boom that will soon turn science fiction into reality. Given that the United States was the primary engine of technology in the second part of the twentieth century, it was well-positioned to sustain dominance in the twenty-first.
According to the research, a 1992 Time Magazine article on the future century arrogantly stated: “China cannot grow into an industrial giant in the twenty-first century.” It has an excessively big population and a low gross domestic output.” However, by 2010, it was clear that China was much more than a low-cost manufacturing hub. Multinational corporations sprang up all over China under the direction of the Chinese state, causing considerable competition in the foundational technologies of the twenty-first century.
China’s ascension to superpower status in the twenty-first century is nothing new. A former Pentagon software chief warned in October 2021 that China is blazing a path to world dominance because of its focus on technical growth, particularly in the realm of AI. In 2018, China overtook the United States as the world’s largest publisher of scientific articles, marking a significant milestone.
The United States must now consider how it will navigate a world in which it is no longer the single superpower. While the latest report may be criticized for being alarmist, it ends on a positive note, suggesting that it is not yet the “game over” for the US.