The United States’ leadership position in critical technologies can be bolstered by investments in technology testbeds, workforce training and R&D, tech experts say.
President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 into law earlier this year in a bid to increase U.S. investment in emerging technologies and compete with countries like China, which funnel billions into semi-chip manufacturing. -conductive, AI applications and quantum computing capabilities.
While the CHIPS Act provides $52 billion to spur chip building nationwide, the bulk of the $280 billion package will go to agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Standards Institute. and technology to research and develop emerging technologies, including quantum computing and AI. Billions will also go towards strengthening education and developing a workforce for these technologies.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing Thursday to hear technology experts discuss how CHIPS and Science Act funding can be used to build U.S. leadership in these critical technologies.
“To remain globally competitive and protect our future, investments like CHIPS and the Science Act are essential to maintaining our national security, to mitigating being overtaken by adversarial nations whose primary focus is to relegate the United States to the rank of second-tier technology nation,” said William Breckenridge III, director of high-performance computing at Mississippi State University and witness at the hearing.
Securing American leadership in critical technologies
Committee Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) told the hearing that international competition in emerging computer technologies is growing. Meanwhile, she said, the United States faces a shortage of quantum computing talent, with less than 5% of US PhDs in relevant fields focused on quantum science.
“The stakes are high,” she said. “Funding for [the CHIPS and Science Act] must not stop at credits for the manufacture of chips. America needs access to better chips. But it also needs the research and manpower to use these chips.”
Nancy Allbritton, dean of the University of Washington’s College of Engineering, said she was encouraged by the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, noting that “sustained federal investment in these programs is essential” for states to United maintain their leadership. Allbritton was also one of the few witnesses to speak at the hearing.
William Breckenridge IIIDirector, High Performance Computing, Mississippi State University
She said quantum science has enabled “breakthrough” technologies, such as GPS, MRIs and lasers for health applications.
“Achieving quantum information science will fundamentally change the way we live and work,” she said.
To support the continued progress of quantum science, Allbritton has supported credits to agencies such as the NSF, which provides grants and funding to academic institutions for science education. She also supported increased federal investments in workforce development and education, accessible quantum testbeds, basic quantum information research, and technology policy.
Jack Clark, co-founder of AI security and research firm Anthropic and another witness at the hearing, also backed investment in testbeds across the United States for AI. . Clark said the AI testbeds will help train a “diverse new workforce in the art of evaluating and deploying AI systems.”
“Testing and evaluating AI systems is fundamental to realizing their business applications and identifying any security issues,” Clark said during the hearing. “Therefore, we need to ensure that the National Institute of Standards and Technology is able to set up AI testbeds across America so that local communities can get AI systems out there. lab AIs and vigorously testing and deploying them.”
He said investing in experimental infrastructure for the development and testing of AI systems by academic and government users will also help advance U.S. leadership in technology as countries like China are rapidly closing the gap on this leadership position.
“AI is a competitive technology, and China already rivals the United States in AI R&D,” Clark said. “In 2021, China published more AI research papers than the United States and filed more patents than any other country.”
Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Before joining TechTarget, she was a generalist journalist for the Wilmington StarNews and crime and education reporter Wabash Plain Dealer.