The Soviets shook the world in 1957 when they launched a beachball-sized satellite into space. This “Sputnik moment” showed America it was falling behind its Cold War rival, so in response, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). By investing in technology, America not only landed men on the moon, but won the Space Race and eventually the Cold War.
Today, however, as Walter Copan and Andrei Iancu argue, we are facing a new Sputnik moment that “is harder to see. It is not about just one critical technology, but many, and several are much harder to visualize than a rocket soaring into the sky.” China plans to invest one-and-a-half trillion dollars in paradigm-shifting, emerging technologies, and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) authoritarian state-capitalism and growing ambitions have re-awakened Washington. Eric Schmidt’s Special Competitive Studies Project recently reported that “the United States could lose the competition [with China] if dramatic action is not taken across a broad range of public policy arenas to invest in U.S. technology advantages, strengthen the techno-industrial base, and deploy disruptive technologies democratically and responsibly.” Congress recently passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. But we must do more.