Techno-Nationalism

What is Techno-Nationalism?

Techno-nationalism is the recognition of technology’s influence and relationship in regards to societal and national identity. A strong predictor of a nation’s potential prosperity, sustainability, and advancement are its efforts in the exploration and innovation of technologies through research and development.

What is a Techno-Nationalist?

Techno-nationalists are of the opinion that social connectivity, and a country’s cultural identity, are underpinned by nationalist agendas exploring and innovating future technologies. Techno-nationalism can be linked with a commercial mentality, which prioritizes the economic progression of a centralized power over mutually-beneficial geopolitical processes. 

On the foundation of R&D and applied sciences, techno-nationalists promote the advancing agendas of their respective countries, exerting influence over competing nations and the global market through the utilization of technological breakthroughs.

The varying practices of techno-nationalism also depend on a nation’s common goals and shared ideological values. Contrasting standards between nations regarding intellectual property, surveillance, privacy policies, and digital money result in the vastly different ways technology is applicable to a nation’s wider objectives.

How Does Techno-Nationalism Affect the Economy?

Outlook on the uses of emerging technologies, and their potential contribution to the countries in which they were invented, differ depending on each nation.

Western countries operating under free-market capitalism follow the rule that government authority does not participate in or dictate economic processes—instead, allowing independent bodies autonomous exploration of innovative technologies.

This results in an organic, disparate discovery and digital adoption of emerging technologies that can prove both beneficial and detrimental to Western techno-nationalist efforts. Innovative R&D efforts usually happen in such siloed environments, which makes the union of potentially collaborative technologies much harder, but offers a greater variety of solutions.

China, on the other hand, follows a socialist market economy that sees public ownership and state-owned enterprises fall under one-party authoritarian rule. Employing a state-centric economic system allows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) totalitarian oversight on R&D efforts including technology sectors.

This can be detrimental to techno-nationalists in that restrictive R&D environments do not allow for varying methods and diverse approaches to technological discovery. Whether democracies or dictatorships, all proponents of techno-nationalism share a similar goal:

Utilize emerging technologies that sustain the geopolitical influence of their respective countries.

Techno-Nationalism in Countries

Japan

Japan’s historical strides in technology-driven innovations have seen the country become a world leader in the creation of consumer electronics, shipbuilding, automobiles, and more. In Japan today, techno-nationalism serves as a motivating factor for the advancement of home-grown technologies and subsequent national self-sufficiency. 

Japan has invested heavily in its technological industries, harnessing geopolitical leverage that ultimately reinforces techno-nationalism. A similar mentality commonly adopted as far back as Japan’s Meiji era (1868-1912) was “fukoku kyohei”, or “rich nation, strong army.”

China

China remains at the forefront of technological research and development, with its “Made in China 2025” industrial master plan providing heavy investment for cross-sector technological initiatives. 

With its AI industry tripling to 453.26 billion yuan in value within the next four years, China is steering away from international dependency on imported technologies—especially from the United States. The ongoing trade war between the U.S and China reaffirms each nation’s respective desire to strive for autonomy in the geopolitical market. 

China’s techno-nationalism proves prevalent by way of their preparation to disengage from Western trade agreements. Techno-nationalism is a major motivator in the CCP’s race towards self-sufficiency. The feverish trade war with the U.S, its advancement in pharmaceuticals, wireless technology, and engineering industries solidified the countries distaste of international collaboration.

US

Much like China, the United States is a strong proponent of techno-nationalism, their continued investment of innovative research and development throughout history confirming the fact. 125 Americans received the Nobel Peace Prize in science throughout the last eighty years. 

The United States’ alignment with techno-nationalism directly correlates with the country’s pursuit of economic freedom and superiority on the global market through ever-increasing R&D efforts. Innovations in software, nuclear power, space flight, artificial intelligence (AI), and smartphones have all contributed to emergent techno-nationalism within the United States.

UK

The United Kingdom has historically engaged in techno-nationalism before the concept was fully realized. Britain routinely invested in the research and development of innovative technologies such as the steam engine, the electric motor, and the World Wide Web. An example of the U.K’s earliest understandings of how technology can advance agendas was with the opening of Britain’s National Giro. 

A state-owned financial institution designed to operate from within a computerized apparatus underpinned by techno-nationalistic ideals. In 1963, then U.K prime minister Harold Wilson adopted a techno-nationalist stance that looked to challenge American competition and support the British computer industry. Today, Britain—along with its free-market allies—still maintains a sense of techno-nationalism, but instead works in collaboration with other nations to further advance their respective positions on the global market.

France

France shares similar economic aspirations to Britain and the United States in its utilization of innovative technologies to increase its economic position on the free market. Following the laissez-faire model, France has made technological strides that reinforce and sustain the techno-nationalist ideology.

The term “entrepreneur” was first coined in France and is the first definition of an individual skilled at maximizing resources and capital for the most efficient results. 

Most global governmental processes today utilize entrepreneurial skills to streamline and improve processes that greatly enable governmental operations. The stethoscope, the photograph, and the camera phone are French inventions that sustain importance on the country’s techno-nationalism.

Australia

Australia’s technological successes throughout history have facilitated a space for understanding and advocating techno-nationalist agendas within the country. Australia follows a similar trajectory to the United States and the U.K in their utilization of technological breakthroughs to enhance their societies’ connective potential.

Australia contributed to the creation of Google Maps, which subsequently reaffirms the validity of techno-nationalism, which then manifests in continued software R&D. Technological feats such as the electric drill, electronic pacemakers, and black box flight recorders all fuel the understanding and need for techno-nationalism. 

Canada

Canada’s technological contributions to the world have been a motivating factor for techno-nationalists in the country. The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800s, and its subsequent success in connecting continental Canada, fuelled techno-nationalist beliefs.

Bolstering the nation’s increasing faith in technology, further research and development efforts eventually led to advancements in broadcasting and communications. Some of the world’s largest technology hubs originate from Canada and adherence to techno-nationalism is on the rise as a result.

Singapore

Singapore has had significant success in creating culture-defining technologies. The 2nd most technologically advanced country in the world, Singapore is responsible for innovating the Infocomm and Communication Technology sector (ICT), which has enhanced global communicative capabilities. One of Asia-Pacific’s largest IT hubs, Singapore serves as a base for most of the world’s leading global industries. 

Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft all recognize Singapore’s relevance in relation to technology. This has contributed to Singapore’s understanding of the benefits of technology in collaboration with state affairs.

Consequently, techno-nationalist objectives often underpin and intersect with state objectives. Techno-nationalism is evidenced in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, which will utilize smart technology to encourage city-wide connectivity and increased data access for all.

Techno Nationalism and Digital Transformation

A nation’s position on the global hierarchy can greatly determine how and if emerging technologies will enhance national prosperity. The global reach of digital transformation extends beyond borders with the latest innovative processes emerging randomly. 

Harnessing the power of digital transformation for techno-nationalist objectives is based on a nation’s capability in adapting and furthering new and existing technologies through comprehensive and well-funded research, as well as development initiatives.

Techno-nationalists support and advocate for increased research and development efforts, believing the exploration and innovation of potential technology are critical components for the prospective growth of a nation.

Digital Transformation takes those technological inventions, reimagining and transforming them for better and more efficient use. Techno-nationalism and digital transformation are connected through the shared principles of utilizing technology to further accelerate growth—be it that of a nation or a business process.

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