CEO Daily Recalibrating U.S. and Chinese Tech Ecosystems


Good morning.

I’m on my way to Guangzhou, China, where the third annual Fortune Global Technology Forum gets underway tomorrow. This has become an eye-opening event for me each year, because it provides an under-the-hood look at the private tech industry exploding across China. A highlight is the Fortune China Innovation Award competition, which showcases tech startups from around the nation.

The backdrop to this year’s conference is growing concern that the U.S. and China are diverging into separate technology ecosystems. While the trade war has cooled recently—as my colleague Adam Lashinsky noted yesterday—the tech war has not. A report delivered to the U.S. Congress this week by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence illustrates the trend. The bipartisan commission, chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, notes the benefits of technology collaboration between the U.S. and China, but charges that China is using A.I. to “build a dystopian surveillance state,” and says U.S. “global leadership in A.I.” must be “a national security priority.”

“The choice need not be a binary one between cooperating and disentangling,” the report concludes. But it does require “recalibration” to “be more conducive to American interests.” I’m betting that recalibration will be long and bumpy.

Separately, IBM and Bank of America this morning are announcing a unique public cloud infrastructure that they are building to meet the security and compliance needs of banks. The effort comes out of a nine-month collaboration between IBM SVP Bridget van Kraligen and BofA’s Chief Operations and Technology Officer Cathy Bessant. “No other cloud provider has the built-in security and regulatory controls” that banks need, van Kraligen told me in an interview yesterday. Bessant said the new cloud will be open to other banks and related institutions. “We can build a beautiful cloud for ourselves, but if it’s not a universal standard” open to those whom BofA transacts with, “then we haven’t mitigated risk.”

Alan Murray