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A vivid, thoughtful examination of how technological innovation—especially AI—is shaping the tensions between democracy and autocracy during the new Cold War.
So much of what we hear about China and Russia today likens the relationship between these two autocracies and the West to a “rivalry” or a “great-power competition.” Some might consider it alarmist to say we are in the midst of a second Cold War, but that may be the only responsible way to describe today’s state of affairs.
What’s more, we have come a long way from Mao Zedong’s infamous observation that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Now we live in an age more aptly described by Vladimir Putin’s cryptic prophecy that “artificial intelligence is the future not only of Russia, but of all mankind, and whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become ruler of the world.”
George S. Takach’s incisive and meticulously researched new volume, Cold War 2.0, is the book we need to thoroughly understand these frightening and perilous times. In the geopolitical sphere, there are no more pressing issues than the appalling mechanizations of a surveillance state in China, Russia’s brazen attempt to assert its autocratic model in Ukraine, and China’s increasingly likely plans to do the same in Taiwan.
But the key here, Takach argues, is that our new Cold War is not only ideological but technological: the side that prevails in Cold War 2.0 will be the one that bests the other in mastering the greatest innovations of our time. Artificial intelligence sits in our pockets every day—but what about AI that coordinates military operations and missile defense systems? Or the highly sophisticated semiconductor chips and quantum computers that power those missiles and a host of other weapons? And, where recently we have seen remarkable feats of bio-engineering to produce vaccines at record speed, shouldn’t we be concerned how catastrophic it would be if bio-engineering were co-opted for nefarious purposes?
Takach thoroughly examines how each of these innovations will shape the tension between democracy and autocracy, and how each will play a central role in this second Cold War. Finally, he crafts a precise blueprint for how Western democracies should handle these innovations to respond to the looming threat of autocracy—and ultimately prevail over it.
George S. Takach holds a first degree in history, political economy, and philosophy from the University of Toronto; a graduate degree in international relations from Carleton University; and a law degree from the University of Toronto. For forty years, he practiced law at McCarthy Tétrault, Canada’s premier law firm. This is his first book to be released by a trade publisher. He lives in Toronto.
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"Essential for readers interested in international relations, current events, and competition among the world’s superpowers, especially in regard to advanced technology." Library Journal
"This comprehensive, clear, and compelling book argues convincingly that the U.S.-led democracies will win the current cold war 2.0 against the China-led authoritarian powers. Drawing on rich evidence and ideas from the past 2,500 years, Takach adds his personal experience and an impressive array of current detail to make his case. Moving smoothly from an analysis of countries’ key relative capabilities, through current flashpoints, to policy prescriptions and practical solutions, he identifies what they can and should do now to ensure that the democratic powers win this second cold war. It is a must read for the many policymakers, scholars, and citizens afflicted by the current tidal wave of crises, uncertainties, and doubts, as it offers a message of hope—and shows why and how this hope can come true for the world as a whole.”
John Kirton, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Toronto
“George Takach has made a compelling and fascinating argument in taking on the crucial question of how cutting-edge technology, particularly AI, semiconductors, quantum computing, biotech, cloud computing, and fusion energy will impact on the upcoming Cold War with China. Technological innovation, as a process, has been the subject of constant evolution since the end of the nineteenth century, and its careful manipulation by the democracies played a decisive role in ending the first Cold War. George explores these dynamics, including what he terms hyper-innovation, and the decisive role played by gender-inclusion and the particular advantages possessed by democracies in innovation. An insightful examination.” Professor Julian Spencer-Churchill Concordia University
"A fascinating, timely, and chilling assessment of how AI will shape the looming struggle between China and the US over the battlefield of Taiwan. Key decision makers in Washington, DC, need to read George S. Takach's compelling study before it’s too late.”
Saul David, author of Devil Dogs: From Guadalcanal to the Shores of Japan; Operation Thunderbolt; Crucible of Hell; and The Force.
"Russian aggression in Ukraine and Chinese designs on Taiwan rightly worry the citizens of Western democracies. Add the uncertainty of innovations such as AI and biotech, and the future feels destined to be a dystopian science fiction political thriller. Takach, however, soberly analyzes the geopolitical and technological dangers and offers a hopeful message: the political strength of democracy and the innovative potential of market economies are more than enough to defeat our autocratic adversaries—if we understand the nature of Cold War 2.0."
David Head, author of A Republic of Scoundrels: The Schemers, Intriguers, and Adventurers Who Created a New American Nation and A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fall of the American Revolution
"George S. Takach has convinced me: we are in the midst of a new Cold War with autocratic governments around the globe. This war, Takach argues, will be won or lost not on human reaction to unfolding events, but on a people’s mastery of Artificial Intelligence. This mastery is fueled by human innovation, usually embraced in the United States. Cold War 2.0 is a superbly researched treatise on the imminent danger we find ourselves in, and a roadmap to our only route to victory.”
Lis Wiehl, Author of A Spy in Plain Sight