Greater Eurasia, the “world island” in classical Anglo-Saxon geopolitics, is a complex phenomenon, whose internal structure has always been at the nexus of many dynamic processes that were formed at the intersection of economics, politics, trade, the art of war, intellectual pursuits, religions and ethnic contacts.
In terms of its dynamism, the modern era in Greater Eurasia is not fundamentally different from previous ones; the only difference is that never before in the history of Eurasia have there been so many technological centres entering into a competitive race for leadership in the new technological epoch. China, Japan, Germany and the EU as a whole, South Korea, Russia, India, Singapore, Israel, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran are developing and implementing various-scale technological programmes, which can be attributed to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR). To this we can add the participation in the technological race of the United States, despite it being geographically external to Eurasia. Central Asia, as represented by Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, is also taking its first steps towards technological transition.
The number of areas in which competition is emerging is very large, ranging from the introduction of artificial intelligence, the industrial Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, robotics, smart cities, to technologies which will create an orbital market for flights to the other planets of the solar system and cyborgisation.
First of all, these are the challenges to the stability of the prevailing world trade system, supply chains and the added value creation. A technological transition with an eye to leadership and the formation of proper technological zones based on the principles of FIR and sales markets will require from countries access to very significant resources, which in turn will increase the likelihood of numerous trade and currency wars. In the 20th century, such processes proceeded in an extremely acute form, causing enormous damage to the stability and human potential of Greater Eurasia.
Challenges will also come from the process of introducing massive innovative technologies in production, in the field of natural resources extraction and services. A large number of low- and medium-skilled jobs will be directly affected. According to Carl Benedikt Frey, an economic historian from Oxford University, the new industrial revolution will be based on “labour-replacing technology”, i.e. technology that will replace jobs that previously required human participation. Therefore, the governments that today are implementing automation, artificial intelligence, autonomous transport, and robotisation programs, need to think about developing programmes for creating new types of jobs, because otherwise workers and clerks who are supplanted by new technology can become a source of socio-political instability. Eurasia has already witnessed something similar. The first technological revolution, which was also dominated by substitutional technology, spawned a rebellious working class, which according to Frey, became a source of Marxism. There’s no need to say what political and humanitarian consequences this had for the 20th century.
A further profitability increase of the automated industries, while allowing them to be closer to consumers, could strike global supply chains and creation of added value, as well as reduce the need for cheap labour; many countries continue to place their hopes on inexpensive workers in their “catching-up” development agendas. A change in growth drivers could also lead to a decrease in the chances of many developing countries reaching a higher level of technological development and well-being, with all the consequences that follow from the “drain” of qualified personnel from regions that rely on their aptitude. In an extreme scenario, players who find themselves left behind in the global technological transition may face an increase in domestic socio-political instability.