China-US Tech Race: Assessing Technological Emergences

The author of The Diplomat, Mercy Kuo, regularly engages subject matter experts, policy professionals, and strategic thinkers from around the world to elicit their diverse views on US policy in Asia. This conversation with Dr. Richard Silberglitt, Senior Physical Scientist and Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School, RAND Corporationit is number 326 in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series”.

Identify the top three takeaways from your co-authoring report, “Using predictive analytics tools to assess technology emergencies and acquisition targets.”

Between 1990 and 2017, the United States was the leader (the first country in which the emergence occurred) in far more technological emergences than any other country in six broad technical areas of interest to the Department of the Air Force: Additive Manufacturing (AM) , Artificial Intelligence (AI), Ceramics, Quantum and Sensors.

When China’s emergence occurs after that of the United States, that is, China is the follower, the time lag between the start of the emergence in the two countries is much longer than for the much smaller number of emergences in which China is the follower. first and the United States. States follows.

Technology emergencies in China are increasing significantly faster than those in the United States, and in the most recent time period studied (2009-2017) there are more early patent filings (i.e., within the first two years after the emergence). ) in China than in the United States for emergencies in the six general technical areas studied that occur within three years of each other in the two countries.

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Explain the report’s methodology and the role of US and Chinese patent filings and applications in measuring technology breakthroughs and acquisition targets.

We identify technological emergencies by detecting rapid increases in the cumulative number of patent applications filed in specific technical areas, using a large dataset that includes all international patent applications and patents issued since 2001. We designate the country in which a emergence first as a “technology leader” in that specific technical area, because it is most likely the home of inventors, and its patent applicants are often the leaders in the most important applications of that technology. When an emergence occurs in the same specific technical area, which we define according to the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) Scheme, at a later time in another country, we designate that country as a “follower”.

We compared the emergency years between the US and China for all emergencies between 2001 and 2017 in the six broad technical areas studied to determine who was the leader and who was the follower. Organizations that have early patent filings in a surge in the country that is the “technology leader” may be attractive acquisition targets, especially if their patent filings are early in more than one surge, suggesting the potential application of an emerging technology in one. or more different emerging technology areas.

Compare and contrast the technological leadership and comparative advantage of the US and China.

The United States is the “technology leader” many more times than any other country in the six general technical areas studied during the entire period studied (1990-2017). When the US and China have surges in the same specific technical area, the US is the “tech leader” many times more than China. For the fewest times when China is the “tech leader” and the US is the “follower”, the time between the emergence of the leader and the follower is much shorter than when China is the “follower”, which which suggests that, over time and in the broad technical areas studied, the US has been in a stronger position when it is a tech ‘follower’ than China when it is a tech ‘follower’.

Examine international patent trends and the trajectory of technological competition between the US and China.

We did a detailed comparison of US and Chinese patent applications in the small number of specific technical areas with emergencies (2 percent of total emergencies) where US and Chinese emergencies occur with a difference of 1 to 3 years from each other. we call “nearby emergencies”. For these close emergencies, we find a time-dependent difference when comparing the number of early patent filings in the US and China:

  • Between 2001 and 2008, most of the first patent applications in close emergencies in the general technical areas studied were made in the US.
  • Between 2009 and 2017, the number of close emergencies in which China has the most early patent applications is greater than the number of close emergencies in which the US has the most early patent applications in all six technical areas general studied.

Assess the policy implications of the report’s findings and recommendations for US policymakers and industry leaders.

While the US remains the “technological leader” in the general technology areas studied, China is filing more advance patent applications in recent years than the US in specific technical areas for which the US and China have emerged within 1 to 3 years of each other. other (“close emergencies”). To properly assess technology leadership in these specific technical areas, US policy makers and industry leaders must conduct a detailed comparative analysis of the quality of patent applications and products in the world market of the first applicants in the US and China.

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To identify specific technology areas where the US is the “tech leader” and there are US companies with leading technology capabilities that could make them attractive for potential foreign acquisition, US policymakers and industry leaders Organizations with early patent filings in more than one emergence, suggesting the potential application of an emerging technology in one or more other emerging technology areas, should be screened.

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