Alice Pannier spoke at Future Human 2022 about the factors influencing tech decoupling and where this division could lead.

Technology stands at the heart of a range of issues in the world, such as growing divisions between “techno democracies and techno authoritarian states”.

That’s according to Alice Pannier, head of the geopolitics of technology programme at the French Institute of International Relations.

Speaking at this year’s Future Human, Pannier explained the main factors pushing a ‘tech decoupling’ as nations around the world look to assert their technological independence and self-sufficiency.

Recent issues such as the war in Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic and growing competition between the US and China have accelerated tech decoupling around the world, she said. She also noted the desire to protect against cyberthreats and supply chain disruptions as prominent factors.

“We see that it is creating a drive in Europe to attempt to develop alternatives to US and Chinese cloud providers,” Pannier said. “We see that also with new technology comes new risk and with the arrival of 5G we’ve seen such concerns about cyberthreats in espionage coming to the fore again.”

She said that sanctions and restrictions can lead to a restructuring of value chains and changes in providers, which can have a lasting impact on tech decoupling between nations.

These changes can also affect the future geopolitical landscape, with nations such as Russia and China working more closely together, while the EU and the US are moving in a similar direction.

Among the various issues that tech decoupling can cause, Pannier said limits to research collaborations, increased sanctions and trade restrictions could have a long-term impact on the “other big issue” – the climate emergency.


Words by Leigh Mc Gowran