Artificial intelligence – a success factor for geopolitical power?

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In addition to the race for access to natural resources, a race for technological influence and significance is also becoming increasingly apparent. Artificial intelligence (AI) is repeatedly cited here. Most countries unveiled strategies for developing and advancing AI some time ago. For example, artificial intelligence is at the center of research and development in China's five-year plan. At the same time, current conflicts show that the quest for geopolitical influence has been renewed. In a recent article, Forbes magazine therefore asks whether artificial intelligence itself has already become a success factor for geopolitical influence and significance.

How can geopolitical influence be measured?

What criteria are used to assess geopolitical influence? Forbes magazine used a catalog of criteria based on the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. According to this, influencing factors such as the natural resource endowment of a country play a major role. In the current situation, where access to natural resources and commodities are at stake, this is understandable. After all, different countries use this as an instrument to strengthen their own influence. However, this goes further. The size or location of countries is also important and must be considered in combination. According to the criteria catalog, social and health structures have a major influence, above all ensuring internal stability and prosperity. Criteria such as domestic policy and the economic strength of a country as a prerequisite lead in a similar direction. Also important are a country's human capital and the importance of science. This in particular is important in connection with new technologies. Also decisive are international diplomacy, security aspects and military factors. In other words, how influence is used internationally. Accordingly, a clever combination of criteria is also decisive. If there is an imbalance over a longer period of time, then it can have an impact on the overall position. The question that author Dr. Lance B. Eliot of Forbes magazine now asks: Does artificial intelligence already represent another factor for geopolitical influence or does it only have a supporting function?

Artificial intelligence – Four waves of AI Evolution

What kind of AI is being talked about? Meanwhile, there is already the Third Wave of AI. For a large part of the applications, however, Second Wave AI is still used. Here, its focus is data-centrism and machine learning. Applications such as voice recognition like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri are based on Second Wave AI. Image recognition, which is also used in the medical field for more comprehensive analysis, for example, is also based on Second Wave AI. In the meantime, Third Wave AI is evolving. The term goes back to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the United States Department of Defense. Third Wave AI is model-centric and therefore able to make context-sensitive decisions. It is thus fundamentally closer to resemble human cognition and to make and execute human-like decisions, however within a specific context. The deep tech company 21strategies from Munich uses Third Wave AI in capital markets, supply chains and national security. Current developments and applications are still far from the development of an artificial intelligence that is able to sentient feelings and autonomy as it is known from humans.

Artificial intelligence – The global race Persists

The fundamental question here is whether artificial intelligence in itself is a criterion for geopolitical influence. Likewise, there are opinions that see it more as another technology like quantum technology or virtual and augmented technology. For Forbes magazine author Dr. Lance B. Eliot, the question is simple to answer. Artificial intelligence strongly influences all the criteria that make up geopolitical influence. Accordingly, AI itself can be seen as a criterion for exercising geopolitical power. Therefore, artificial intelligence does have a transformative character. Regardless, however, what matters is how different nations behave and position themselves in the field of AI. Most countries have clearly developed and published strategies on how they want to advance and use artificial intelligence. Accordingly, the race has long begun and in the end will ensure that artificial intelligence has an important impact on geopolitical criteria.

To learn more about 21strategies' technology, contact us at research@21strategies.com.


Eliot, Lance B. (2022). AI Ethics And The Looming Political Potency Of AI As A Maker Or Breaker Of Which Nations Are Geopolitical Powerhouses. In: Forbes, Jersey City. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lanceeliot/2022/08/22/ai-ethics-and-the-looming-political-potency-of-ai-as-a-maker-or-breaker-of-which-nations-are-geopolitical-powerhouses [30.08.2022].

Author: Tanja Zimmermann