According to technologists, U.S. leadership in key technologies can be consolidated through investments in technology testbeds, workforce education, and research and development.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed into law the Chip and Science Act of 2022 to increase U.S. investment in emerging technologies and compete with countries like China, which are investing in semiconductor chip manufacturing, Billions of dollars are being invested in AI applications and quantum computing capabilities.
While the Chip Act did provide $52 billion to boost domestic chip manufacturing, much of the $280 billion competing package would go to agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, To research and develop emerging technologies, including quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Billions of dollars will also be spent on promoting education and developing a workforce for such technologies.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing Thursday to hear tech experts discuss how CHIPS and Science Act funding can be used to strengthen U.S. leadership in these critical technologies.
“In order to remain globally competitive and protect our future, investments such as CHIPS and the Science Act are critical to safeguarding our national security and reducing overtaking by adversary states whose primary goal is to relegate the United States to a second-tier technology nation. Important,” said William Breckenridge III, director of high-performance computing at Mississippi State University and a witness at the hearing.
Securing U.S. leadership in critical technologies
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the committee chair, noted at the hearing that international competition for emerging computing technologies is intensifying. At the same time, she said, the United States faces a shortage of talent in quantum computing, with less than 5% of U.S. doctorate holders in related fields focusing on quantum science.
“The stakes are high,” she said. “Funding [the CHIPS and Science Act] Funding for chip manufacturing cannot be stopped. America needs to get better chips. But it also requires researchers and labor to use these chips. “
Nancy Allbritton, dean of the University of Washington’s School of Engineering, said she was encouraged by the passage of CHIPS and the Science Act, noting that “continued federal investment in these programs is critical for the United States to maintain its leadership.” . Allbritton was also one of the few witnesses to speak at the hearing.
William Breckenridge IIIDirector of High Performance Computing at Mississippi State University
Quantum science has enabled “groundbreaking” technologies such as GPS, MRI and lasers for healthcare applications, she said.
“The realization of quantum information science will fundamentally change the way we live and work,” she said.
To support continued progress in quantum science, Allbritton supports grants to institutions such as the NSF, which provides grants and funding for academic institutions in science education. She also supports increased federal investment in workforce development and education, accessible quantum testbeds, fundamental quantum information research, and technology policy.
Jack Clark, co-founder of AI security and research firm Anthropic and another witness at the hearing, also supported investing in AI testbeds across the United States. The AI testbed will help train “a new, diverse workforce that evaluates and deploys the art of AI systems,” Clark said.
“Testing and evaluating AI systems is fundamental to enabling their commercial applications and identifying any safety issues,” Clark said at the hearing. “We must therefore ensure that the National Institute of Standards and Technology can establish AI testbeds in the United States so that local communities can take AI systems out of the lab and vigorously test and deploy them.”
Investments by academic and government users in experimental infrastructure for developing and testing AI systems will also help boost U.S. leadership in the technology, he said, as countries such as China have rapidly narrowed its lead on the gap.
“AI is a competitive technology, and China is already competing with the U.S. in AI R&D,” Clark said. “In 2021, China will publish more AI research papers than the US and file more patents than any other country.”
Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation.Before joining TechTarget, she was Wilmington Star and crime and education journalists Wabash General Dealer.