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Technology and Geopolitical Competition in the Digital Age

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Thursday, February 22, 2024, 5:30 pm

Throughout history, rival powers have competed over technology. In the twentieth century, U.S. government funding supported major technological innovations that America harnessed for geopolitical gain and military advantage. This helped the United States prevail in the Cold War and facilitated its emergence as the preeminent global power. Technology continues to be a primary driver of geopolitical competition in the digital era. But the dynamics are shifting and challenging U.S. and Western dominance. The talk will probe how technology is transforming geopolitics in ways that are upending how countries compete, and how actors wage war. The potential for advanced technologies—generative AI systems, satellite internet, autonomous drones, and advanced semiconductors—to provoke major changes to geopolitics, international relations, and war is an underexplored topic. These disruptions are occurring amidst a reordering of the international system; it is essential to understand how these dynamics are unfolding and their consequences for global stability.

Steven Feldstein is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program. He has published research on digital technology’s impact on war, the role of artificial intelligence in reshaping repression, the geopolitics of technology, China’s advancing digital authoritarianism, and new patterns of internet shutdowns. Feldstein is the author of The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance (Oxford, 2021) and Digital Repression Index. He is currently writing a book about how technology is upending how countries compete and how actors wage war, under contract with St. Martin’s Press.

Previously, Feldstein worked as an associate professor at Boise State University and served in multiple foreign policy positions in the U.S. government, including in the U.S. Department of State under President Obama and as the director of policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Feldstein is a graduate of Princeton University and Berkeley Law. He was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana.