Globalization of Science and Technology: Key Challenges Facing DOD --- A New Defense & Technology Paper
Defense Technology Paper #91
Globalization of S & T: Key Challenges Facing DOD
By Timothy Coffey and Steven Ramberg
In the second half of the 20th century, the United States enjoyed stature and prosperity at levels seldom achieved in recorded history. The country’s status included predominance in most fields of science and technology (S&T), as well as a phenomenal breadth and pace of innovation. We are now experiencing a global shift to a more level playing field among nations; demographics, economics, and political forces are the driving forces behind this shift. The impact of this shift on U.S. S&T will be significant.
The globalization of S&T has been a topic of discussion for some time. Some of the discussion has related to its impact on U.S. competitiveness and often argues to increase the supply of scientists and engineers (S&E) and increase funding for the scientific enterprise. Other discussion has focused on how globalization is changing how S&T occurs and often addresses the need to prepare scientists, engineers, and societies for these changes.
By the middle of the 21st century, it is likely that a number of nations will be similarly prosperous and as technologically productive as the United States, and no single nation or group will dominate as the United States did in the latter half of the 1900s. During the period of U.S. dominance, nearly half of the S&Es performing research in the world were in the United States. Furthermore, a substantial fraction of these S&Es were working on research for national security and funded by the Department of Defense (DOD). By 2050 this situation will have changed dramatically. The U.S. share of the global S&T enterprise will have decreased, and only a small fraction of U.S. S&Es will work on national security problems. This change poses challenges to the roles and conduct of DOD S&T. Before addressing these challenges, it is helpful to attempt to quantify the magnitude of the shift underway and the likely timeframe over which it will occur.
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