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EITA Political Science and International Affairs Research

(Harvard University - Joyce Yang)



Emerging Technologies And Their Impact On 

International Relations And Global Security



- Main Objectives

The year 1945 was one of fundamental changes for all mankind. Some people think this is the year of the end of the Second World War. Others think it is a sign of the beginning of the atomic age. Many people bind countless wartime, political and economic events together, and believe that this is the beginning of America's primacy and dominance across the globe.

EITA international affairs research comprises a range of cross-cutting issues, including global economies and trade, space and maritime security, diplomacy, emerging technologies, global health and education, nation building, and regional security and stability. EITA also analyzes the policies and effectiveness of international organizations such as the UN, NATO, European Union, and ASEAN.


- Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on International Relations and Security and Foreign Policy

Looking at international relations and security (IR&S) and foreign policy (FP) issues through the eyes of an innovation studies researcher presents a dialectic challenge. On the one hand, it is always restricted by the natural lack of knowledge about IR&S theories and facts; on the other, it may reveal some hidden tendencies on the crossroads between technology and IR&S/FP. In the case of emerging technologies, this problem is further aggravated by the fact that most of them are in the relatively early stage of development. Considering these two problems, the text below should be considered as a trend- and problem-identifying effort rather than a scrupulous analysis of already clear and formed events and processes. 

IR&S were always strongly influenced by emerging technologies and disruptive innovations – both directly (weapons, technology alliances in support of FP goals, etc.) and indirectly (economic and defense potentials, soft power and other). Be it new means of transportation and communications, nuclear arsenals or drugs against HIV – technology, like gravitation in physics, is constructing or reshaping spaces of IR&S/FP and influencing the pace of processes. 

The current situation in technology development is challenging for IR&S. Not considering high-tech advances in traditional weaponry, like hypersonic missiles, we witness the rise and multiplication of emerging technologies with potentially transformative effects for the economy, politics, culture - and IR&S. Among the most well-known are several umbrella high-tech domains: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and associated group of digital technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, blockchain, quantum computing, advanced robotics, self-driving cars and other autonomous systems, additive manufacturing (3D-printing), social networks, the new generation of biotech and genetic engineering and many others.


- Power and Neo-colonialism in the Emerging Technology Era

An open question is power and neo-colonialism in the emerging technology era. Despite rising research, development and innovation competences and high-tech industries in emerging and other developing nations, most science and technology advances still appear in a very small number of advanced nations. Be it development of AI, biotech, robotics or 3D printing, except for China (in some areas) other nations mostly play the role of technology acceptors or, at best, niche leaders. 

Extrapolating current technology, innovation and economic trends, we can forecast both the Matthew effect in the emerging technology realm, and growing reliance of the majority of nations on the technology exports and services of a small group of leader economies. Since liaisons and interdependence between the provider and consumer of most important technologies are strong, it could be converted into IR&S (international relations and security) influence or “red lines”. And even if this influence would be distributed among a set of IR&S actors, including multinational corporations, in the realm of a new technological revolution we may face a much more complicated and subtle domination/submission and power lines in IR&S. However easy would be that yoke and however light the burden, this adds some new accents to an old question about power and dependence, especially in the North-South relations [- between the wealthy, industrialized countries of the non-communist world (the "North") and the countries of the so-called developing world (the "South")]. 



 [More to come ...]


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