Seven Critical Technologies for Winning the Next War

By Emily Harding

Emily Harding is deputy director and senior fellow with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She joined CSIS from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), where she was deputy staff director. While working for SSCI, she led the Committee’s multiyear investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. She oversaw the activities of 18 intelligence agencies and led SSCI staff in drafting legislation, conducting oversight of the intelligence community, and developing their expertise in intelligence community matters.  She began her career as a leadership analyst at CIA.

By Harshana Ghoorhoo

Harshana Ghoorhoo is a former Research Assistant at the International Security Program in the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research is focused on tech law; green tech; tech innovation in India; AI; geopolitics; South Asia; and US-India relations.

OPINION / ANALYSIS — The world is speeding up. Adversaries such as China are seeking to remake global power structures and compete with the United States for global influence. A race toward technological advancement underpins the competition over economic power, public health, influence over potential allies, intelligence work, hybrid conflict, and even military strength. The competitor who demonstrates a technological advantage on these fronts has an edge in global influence and an advantage across the spectrum of conflict, with corresponding deterrent effect. 

Seven critical technologies are likely to make a significant difference in the success of the United States and its allies across the spectrum of conflict over the next decade. The U.S. government should “sprint” on three critical technologies where current commercial developments are not fast enough or not tailored enough for U.S. government need: 1.) bioengineering technology; 2.) secure, redundant communications networks; and 3.) quantum technology. The U.S. government should “follow” in four other areas: 4.) space-based sensors; 5.) miniaturized, long-lasting batteries; 6.) robotics; and 7.) artificial intelligence/machine learning. 

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