The Trump administration on Thursday released a national strategy designed to better align the federal government’s enterprise efforts in promoting and protecting U.S. innovation and advantages in critical and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced conventional weapons, quantum computing and space.
No new funding or sanctions were rolled out in conjunction with the National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies, but a senior administration official told media during a background call that “what it does signal is a new coordination among agencies so that items like that in the future both the promote and protect [pillars] will be better synchronized across the different parts of the government.”
An annex included with the 18-page strategy lists 20 critical and emerging technologies, which are advanced computing, advanced conventional weapons, advanced engineering materials, advanced manufacturing, advanced sensing, aero-engines, agriculture, AI, autonomous systems, biotechnologies, CBRN mitigation, communications and networking, data science and storage, distributed ledger, energy, human-machine interfaces, medical and public health, quantum information science (QIS), semiconductors and microelectronics, and space.
The Trump administration has already released strategies in areas of AI, quantum information science, and secure 5G, which is part of communications and networking. And in August, the White House along with the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation announced more than $1 billion in awards to establish 12 AI and QIS research and development institutes in the U.S. to serve as national hubs to boost innovation and advance national leadership in these areas.
The administration’s request next February for the federal fiscal year 2022 budget will show how “we’re thinking about dollars associated with our emerging technologies,” a senior administration official said on Thursday morning’s background call.
The new strategy is built on two pillars, one to “Promote the National Security Innovation Base” and the second to “Protect Technology Advantage.”
The promote pillar focuses action in areas such as developing the nation’s science and technology workforce, reducing burdensome regulations and processes that inhibit innovation, increase R&D funding in federal budgets, building technology and governance partnerships with allies, rapidly field innovations, establish international norms, and more.
The protect pillar describes actions to prevent the theft of intellectual property and technologies, security by design, ensure supply chain security, ensure adequate export controls for critical and emerging technologies and that allies and partners also have processes in place to protect their investments in these technologies, and work with stakeholders on the need to protect technology advantage.
“The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to the tactics of countries like the Peoples Republic of China and Russia who steal technology, coerce companies into handing over intellectual property, undercut free and fair markets, and surreptitiously divert emerging civilian technologies to build up their military,” a senior administration official said. “And we will do this in conjunction with our partners, allies and like-minded nations.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday outlined a number of emerging technologies his department in the past year added to export controls such as hybrid additive manufacturing and sub-orbital spacecraft, adding that the department will “continue to evaluate and identify technologies that warrant control.”
The new strategy comes amid bipartisan efforts to ensure U.S. leadership in key future technologies, in particular AI, QIS, 5G and others. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which was directed by Congress, early next year will submit a final report with wide ranging recommendations designed to advance AI and related technologies to address U.S. national security and defense needs.
The commission has highlighted that the U.S. is in competition with China for leadership in AI and in establishing normative behaviors worldwide for the use of the technology.
“As our competitors and adversaries mobilize vast resources in these fields, American leadership in science and technology is more important now than ever and is vital to our long-term economic security and national security,” a senior administration official said.