Speaker: Michael Falcone, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

Just as the struggle for scientific superiority in geopolitics rages today, so great powers have historically sought to best their rivals technologically: so goes AI today, so went atoms in the twentieth century and steamships in the nineteenth. But what if the headlong race for world technological dominance, and of great powers pursuing comprehensive R&D complexes, is actually a newer phenomenon than scholars and policymakers  have thought? This presentation will examine how today's model of superpowers as science-powers stemmed from highly contingent historical processes — a whole paradigm of global competition that emerged from a specific set of transatlantic personal networks and rivalries in the 1940s. It will also explore how the United States built its high-tech identity by siphoning other countries' intellectual property and state-science models, much as it charges China with doing today. Finally, it will deconstruct what scholars and policymakers alike really refer to when use the fuzzy concepts of nations being "ahead" or "behind" their technological rivals.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.