In an unusually blunt speech, Jeremy Fleming, Director of the GCHQ Spy Agency, said the West faced a battle for control of technologies such as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics. “Significant technology leadership is moving East,” Fleming said at Imperial College London. “The concern is that China’s size and technological weight means that it has the potential to control the global operating system.”
“We are now facing a moment of reckoning,” he said. He said digital currencies held significant promise to revolutionise the finance sector but posed a potential threat to liberties if abused by illiberal states as they could enable “significant intrusions into the lives of citizens and companies”. Russia remains the biggest immediate threat to the West but Communist China’s long-term dominance of technology poses a much bigger problem, he said. “Russia is affecting the weather, whilst China is shaping the climate,” he said.