Experts Call for a U.S. National Technology Strategy for AI, Quantum Computing, Hypersonics and 5G
(NextGov) Federal agencies do not currently operate under one overarching strategy that governs all technology implementation. But such a strategy is becoming more of a necessity as the nation is “losing ground to China” in areas including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, hypersonics and 5G, said Sen. Michael Bennet at a recent meeting at the Center for New American Security. According to the senator, China is facilitating a plan that is already connected “almost 90% of their consumers to ultra-fast internet, compared to our 25%.” The country is building factories for electric vehicles faster than the rest of the world and tripled awards of doctorate degrees in science and engineering over the past 20 years.
The senator secured a provision in the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2022 that would require the making of a national technology strategy and said he would “do everything” he could to get it passed. In his view, the government must act urgently to identify priorities, align federal policies and investments, and mobilize the nation “in a coherent and enduring way.”
Other speakers noted how foreign and domestic academics generally work in places where they can secure funding via cohesive and dependable research and development budgets.
“A good example of this is when Anton Zeilinger, who works out of Vienna on quantum information science, was looking to build a quantum satellite for free space quantum teleportation and communication issues. He couldn’t get funding from the Austrian government—but his former student Pan Jianwei out in China was able to get that funding from the Chinese government,” CNAS Adjunct Senior Fellow and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Intelligence and Security at the Commerce Department John Costello explained. “And they entered a joint project that is now being led by the Chinese and now they are using that and doing all sorts of research and a number of breakthroughs on free space quantum teleportation.”
“We haven’t really had this sort of challenge before where we have a strategic competitor—I guess is what we’re calling it these days—who is so deeply integrated into our economy,” Emily Kilcrease, CNAS senior fellow and director of the energy, economics and security program, said. “And so that raises unique challenges when it comes to an open market system.”