Sustaining an Intellectual Balance of Power between the US and China

Michael CS Trumbo, Chris Forsythe, PhD

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2012; 3(1):T8-17

In part, the US has sustained superpower status as a result of educational systems that are superior to much of the less industrialized world. If the US wishes to remain a dominant economic and political force, rigorous intellectual standards must be a priority. The pendulum of intellectual capital has perhaps begun to tilt in the direction of China, in particular due to the staggering manpower of the country, but also as a product of restructuring spanning decades, in both education and politics. This restructuring has prompted the US to question the level of threat China could pose if they increase their role on the global stage. A position is asserted that through an integrated, systems-level approach that treats intellectual capital as a vital national resource, the US may broaden the gap to amass an indomitable advantage. A target is proposed whereby through a combination of science, technology and practice, there is a shift such that our top 50% are performing at or above the levels of today’s top 2%. Such an accomplishment may be achieved partially through US educational policies, but more importantly, there must be commitments to essential science and technology. While investments in different areas of science and technology may impact the global balance of power, this paper, will focus on one facet of science and technology — specifically, cognitive neuroscience and related neurotechnology. The elements essential to achieve such a dramatic shift in the balance of intellectual capital exist — what is lacking is a vision to bring these pieces together, motivated by a desire to build upon our intellectual capital as the means to assure global dominance.


Key words: education, China, intellectual capital, international policy, strategic investment, human dimension, cognitive systems