The world's spies, from Langley and London to Moscow and Beijing, are trying to grapple with seismic advances in technology that are challenging traditional human-led spying operations which dominated for thousands of years.
Richard Moore, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, said quantum engineering, engineered biology, vast troves of data and advances in computer power posed a threat that needed to be addressed by the West.
"Adapting to a world affected by the rise of China is the single greatest priority for MI6," Moore, 58, said in a speech in London.
Moore, a former diplomat who became MI6 chief in 2020, said technological progress over the next decade could outstrip all tech progress over the past century.
Of particular concern to the West's spies are Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies which have rushed to harness the power of a range of sophisticated technologies, sometimes at a faster pace than in the West.
Western intelligence agencies fear Beijing could within decades dominate all of the key emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics.