Prize for Best Essay in Technology and International Security Policy Winner
The Best Essay in Technology and International Security Policy prize is a newly established competition starting in AY 2022-2023. Awarded up to once annually, this prize offers recognition for the best essay that considers the impact of technology on prospects for peace or war, and/or the ways in which conflict may shape technology. Learn more about the prize for Best Essay.
Michael Dekhtyar is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, minoring in International Trade and Development. On campus, he served as Vice President of The Cornell Diplomat and Managing Editor for the Cornell International Affairs Review.
In his essay, Michael analyzes the role of technology across (1) social media, digital surveillance, and disinformation; (2) artificial intelligence, machine learning, and information and communication technologies; and (3) renewable energy, critical minerals, and climate technology. He concludes that across all these pathways, technological innovation and development are both a platform for and a tool of the forces driving increased conflict, division, and isolation in the 21st century. The promises of these innovations to break down barriers and bring together people of all stripes have been all but abandoned. Social media platforms, once hailed as the great disrupters of authoritarian regimes, are now widely used by those same regimes to limit and control the global flow of information. Smart robotics and AI, which were supposed to fuel breakneck economic growth stemming from new digital technologies, have instead displaced millions from their jobs and helped perpetuate age-old prejudices of ethnicity, race, and class. Renewable energy and other technologies, which could have been used to unite the world in the fight against climate change, are now used to gauge national power in zero-sum terms of market share and reshored supply chains.
Despite these trends, there are pathways that the nations of the world can take to limit the disruption and instability stemming from rapid technological change and innovation. Broader and more flexible social support nets can mitigate the impact of automation and smart robotics on global and national labor markets. Well-crafted state regulation of AI, data privacy, and open-source development can harness AI's economic benefits while controlling its social impact. Finally, cross-border cooperation on renewable energy, green technology, and critical minerals would bring more nations together to combat the worst ravages of global climate change.