with economic growth and military modernization. They are the most effective at managing the dynamic tension between their strong top-down investment strategy and their still-developing bottom-up S&T innovation environments. Their autocratic political systems demonstrate the overriding importance of leadership in developing a sustainable commitment to innovation. Among the six countries, only China and Singapore will essentially meet their five-year goals.
Brazil, Japan, and Russia will be slower to achieve both their economic-growth targets and their innovation goals for a variety of country-specific reasons. These include ineffective governance, misaligned economic and security priorities, infrastructure deficits, weak government-to-industry links, educational shortcomings, natural-resource scarcities, and political and cultural resistance to needed reforms. India must overcome substantial financial shortcomings to meet its three- to five-year investment goals for education and research, which seems unlikely to happen. However, its 10th Five-Year Plan that culminated in 2007 was considered a success, so significant achievements are expected.
For the next decade, the United States will remain the global leader for government investment in S&T and for cultivation of a powerful, national innovation environment. However, the dominance of the United States in S&T will likely decline as rates of S&T investment rise in China and other countries. There is considerable concern, for example, about the future of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce in the United States. A 2006 survey of member states in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that 15-year-olds in the United States performed “significantly below” the OECD average in both science and math, ranking 18th and 24th in each, respectively (OECD, 2007). Moreover, there has been serious slippage by the United States in some competitive categories—including the quality of elementary and secondary education, the provision of academic and societal incentives to study science, and a post-9/11 decline in attracting foreign S&T talent (NAS, NAE, IOM, 2007). Such deterioration might represent a distant concern for a country with such a commanding lead in innovation, but the concern is actually more urgent in the context of today’s rapid advancement of emerging and disruptive technologies.
This six-country survey points out growing security concerns that arise from the dynamic, increasingly globally dispersed nature of R&D itself. This unprecedented phenomenon increases the opportunities for technological surprises as many countries, working alone or in concert, can discover, uncover, or create breakthroughs in high-impact technologies in areas such as microprocessing, genomic profiling, biomedical engineering, and drug therapy, or can develop disruptive technologies from new knowledge or from the innovative application of existing technologies.
In addition, multinational corporations with operations in multiple countries are often more powerful than governments in influencing market trends. The United States, which for most of the Cold War era aggressively protected its position as the global center of R&D, now confronts a serious international security challenge that will require increased attention to U.S. capabilities in strategic areas and greater collaboration globally.
The linkage between science and security must have a rigorous, interdisciplinary focus that integrates geopolitical and socio-cultural analyses of government capabilities, strategies, motivations, and intentions with emerging and globally dispersed disruptive technologies. It must be recognized that security-related forecasts are becoming more uncertain and that unexpected events are certain to occur with greater frequency than in the past.
The stakes are high. The United States today is threatened by technological surprises more than it has been at any time in its history. Research and analysis can help tie the uncertainty to geopolitical changes, global financial upheavals, and the S&T revolution—assuming we have the necessary tools to detect and monitor these trends. But the United States cannot eliminate uncertainty or even reduce it to Cold War levels. The recently published Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) summarizes the impact of this reality on the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) S&T program (DoD, 2010):
As global research and development (R&D) investment increases, it is proving increasingly difficult for the United States to maintain a competitive advantage across the entire spectrum of defense technologies … the DoD S&T program is struggling to keep pace with the expanding challenges of the evolving security environment and the increasing speed and cost of global technology development.