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Samm Sacks | November 26, 2019


More event photos can be found on the AGS Facebook page.

AGS event summary by Caroline Anderson:

On Tuesday, November 26, Samm Sacks, a fellow at the Cybersecurity Policy and China Digital Economy program at New America, had a conversation with American Grand Strategy community members on the US-China tech competition and its implications for a possible new, data-driven, Cold War.

In her talk, Sacks outlined both the US and China’s positions as the tech superpowers of the world and how their differing tech policy strategies could have grave consequences for the international relations of the two countries. She discussed how the United States appears to be making policies based on paranoia while China is making policy driven by techno-nationalism. These two diverging viewpoints have led to a deep mistrust that is especially problematic in a world where technology, innovation and the economy depend on the free exchange of ideas.

Sacks then went on to list the reasons why the issue of tech presents such a different challenge than other types of companies such as pharmaceuticals. Companies such as Tik Tok and Huawei have an obligation to the Chinese government by the National Security policy of China making them untrustworthy to the United States, and vice versa. However, screening procedures on the code must keep evolving with the technology and will never be completely effective in protecting against backdoors and data-mining, deepening the mistrust. These types of companies are a point of contention for the United States national security, but Sacks argues that more open exchange is necessary to keep the international exchange of products for technology advancement open, rather than retreating into nationalism and inching towards a Tech Cold War.