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The Logic of Strategic Assets From Oil to Artificial Intelligence

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Document pages: 46 pages

Abstract: What resources and technologies are strategic? This question is often thefocus of policy and theoretical debates, where the label "strategic " designatesthose assets that warrant the attention of the highest levels of the state. Butthese conversations are plagued by analytical confusion, flawed heuristics, andthe rhetorical use of "strategic " to advance particular agendas. We aim toimprove these conversations through conceptual clarification, introducing atheory based on important rivalrous externalities for which socially optimalbehavior will not be produced alone by markets or individual national securityentities. We distill and theorize the most important three forms of theseexternalities, which involve cumulative-, infrastructure-, anddependency-strategic logics. We then employ these logics to clarify threeimportant cases: the Avon 2 engine in the 1950s, the U.S.-Japan technologyrivalry in the late 1980s, and contemporary conversations about artificialintelligence.

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