The development and use of critical technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and cloud computing are increasingly a focus of government policy, R&D budgets, and investment. This reflects the critical role of technology in relation to economic growth, jobs, and national security. Critical technologies are also central to the intensifying strategic competition between the West and China, given the importance of technology for developing and sustaining leading-edge economies and the dual-use potential of many critical technologies with implications for national security.
The significance of critical technologies has led to governments, industries, and civil society organizations to pay growing attention to the development and use of critical technology standards (CTS). Standards shape global markets and effect which technologies become market leaders. Standards also shape the values that technologies embody. For instance, standards as to what is trustworthy and reliable AI will guide AI development globally.
This project developed a Critical Technology Standards Metric (CTSM) that assesses the capacity of countries in the Asia-Pacific region to engage in the development and use of CTS and allows for cross-country comparison of CTS capacity. The CTSM is based on a data collected from a questionnaire sent to government officials, industry, and civil society in a selection of countries, as well as our own research and analysis.
The countries in the CTSM are Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. These countries represent different levels of development and have varying uses of critical technologies in their economies. Indeed, countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore are already established or are becoming established technology hubs. Australia has a strong R&D base and expertise in areas such as quantum computing and AI, whereas a country such as Cambodia is still early in terms of its capacity to use digital technologies. How these countries government, industry and civil society engage with the standards bodies that are producing CTS as well as use CTS, will have implications for the uptake of critical technologies with important effects on economic growth, engagement in international trade, and national security.