The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing. A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its "technological sovereignty" by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.

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Are the US and China headed for a new Cold War over technology? Judging by what we heard a few days ago at the Munich Security Conference, a major trans-Atlantic gathering for world leaders and wonks, you'd certainly think so. US, European, and Chinese officials at the event all weighed in with strong words on the US campaign against Chinese 5G giant Huawei and much more. Here are the main insights we gleaned from the proceedings:

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William Barr, the US attorney general, caused a stir last week when he suggested that the US government should consider buying Ericsson and Nokia, two European technology companies that are competing with the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei are all competing to build the ultra-fast 5G networks that are supposed to power everything from your Netflix, to your self-driving car, to futuristic factories, to entire "smart" cities.

The US has recently been pressuring countries not to use Huawei equipment, because of fears that Beijing could use the company to spy or disrupt critical infrastructure (Huawei denies it has ever done this). And while not all of the US' allies have accepted this logic, there are concerns that in the long run, Huawei, which enjoys huge government support, could drive its competitors out of business, leaving everyone in the world dependent on China for critical mobile network gear.

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For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.

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The drumbeat for regulating artificial intelligence (AI) is growing louder. Earlier this week, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, became the latest high-profile Silicon Valley figure to call for governments to put guardrails around technologies that use huge amounts of (sometimes personal) data to teach computers how to identify faces, make decisions about mortgage applications, and myriad other tasks that previously relied on human brainpower.

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Nearly two years after the Trump administration launched its trade war against China, President Trump and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He will sign a deal in Washington on Wednesday. The full details are still murky, but here is what the so-called "phase one" deal between the world's two biggest economies is expected to include:

China will commit to buy billions of dollars of US oil, cars, aircraft, agricultural products and other goods over the next few years. It will also pledge to better protect US companies' intellectual property and technology secrets.

The US will halt the next scheduled round of tariffs on Chinese imports and reduce some other levies it imposed in September by half. It has already removed China from a list of "currency manipulators" this week ahead of the signing ceremony, a goodwill gesture important to Beijing.

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Iran launched ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq early on Wednesday, in retaliation for last week's US assassination of a top general, Quds Force commander Qassim Suleimani. Announcing the strikes, Iran's foreign minister said it had "concluded proportionate measures in self-defense" and did not seek a further escalation or war. This is a pivotal moment. Iran was bound to respond in some way to the US strike on Suleimani. Now it has done so, apparently without causing US or Iraqi casualties. This situation is still fluid, but for now, the limited strike and Tehran's careful language makes it look like Iran has given President Trump an opportunity to pocket a big victory in an election year while avoiding a wider conflict.

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Technology is changing faster than people or governments can keep up. The move to an information economy is rapidly displacing old industries. People subjected to a continual barrage of news and data feel anxious and alienated. They're suffering from "information overload."

These ideas could easily be part of a stock description of life at the beginning of the 2020s. In fact, they were first popularized half a century ago, in 1970, when the author Alvin Toffler and his wife Heidi, later credited by Alvin as co-author, published their book, Future Shock.

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