Compute to Compete: Cloud, AI, and Strategic Competition over Digital Infrastructure 

There is little about the current era of strategic competition that does not tie back, in some way, to the digital infrastructure powering nations and multi-national companies. Be it the planetary scale cloud computing or the emerging bubble of AI services, everything from modern banking to contemporary weapon systems rely heavily on backbone digital infrastructure. The competition for access, control over, and restriction of that infrastructure is carving battle lines even amidst close allies and partners. Within this landscape, access to technologies such as sophisticated semiconductors, AI-enabled large-scale data processing, and cloud computing infrastructure creates both economic and strategic advantages for states and companies.

Computing power will only become more central to core public and national security functions. Thus, states have increasingly sought to respond to this competition over computing power through statecraft, building their own capacity through investing in onshoring (or friend-shoring) key technology manufacturing processes, supporting the development of domestic cloud computing businesses, and allocating government resources to accelerate AI development while seeking to restrict those same resources to others.

This session seeks to update the vital conversation about computing power as a strategic resource.