Only weeks before election day, President Trump released the “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies.” Designed to strengthen our nation's leadership in cutting-edge technologies, the policy focuses on AI, communications, space technologies, semiconductors, and distributed ledgers, among other strategic fields.
The new strategy builds upon a declaration the administration released in 2017, emphasizing its priorities around national security and world leadership. The new document is clearly designed to counter China and Russia, two countries that have often used U.S. technology to advance their national interests.
In order to remain the world leader in critical and emerging technologies (C&ET), the administration believes our nation must:
- Work alongside the private sector to increase public acceptance of C&ET
- Support the development of a robust National Security Innovation Base
- Reduce regulatory burdens that inhibit technological innovation
- Leverage private capital and expertise to develop innovative technologies and systems
- Lead the global development of technology norms and governance models based on democratic values
- Lead in high-priority C&ET fields
- Invest more in research and development
- Facilitate inventions and innovations
- Encourage public-private partnerships
- Develop the world's top science and technology workforce
- Develop advanced tech applications within government
- Build technology partnerships with allies and promote democratic values
- Attract and retain innovators
In order to protect our nation's technology advantage, the document states the government should focus on:
- Assessing global science and technology trends to be prepared for challenges to U.S. C&ET leadership
- Collaborating with the private sector to strengthen C&ET development
- Encouraging allies to develop mechanisms similar to those executed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, to review transactions involving foreign investment and foreign persons to prevent national security threats
- Focusing on security design in the earlier stages of technology development
- Fostering research security in academic institutions, labs, industry
- Implementing appropriate controls for C&ET exports
- Preventing other countries from acquiring U.S. intellectual property, scientific knowledge, or technologies through illicit means
- Securing supply chains
The full list of designated critical and emerging technologies includes:
- Advanced Computing
- Advanced Conventional Weapons Technologies
- Advanced Engineering Materials
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Advanced Sensing
- Aero-Engine Technologies
- Agricultural Technologies
- Artificial Intelligence
- Autonomous Systems
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Mitigation Technologies
- Communication and Networking Technologies
- Data Science and Storage
- Distributed Ledger Technologies
- Energy Technologies
- Human-Machine Interfaces
- Medical and Public Health Technologies
- Quantum Information Science
- Semiconductors and Microelectronics
- Space Technologies
In its introduction, the document explicitly refers to China and Russia. "The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is not only dedicating large amounts of resources in its pursuit to become the global leader in S&T," officials wrote.
"It is also targeting sources of United States and allied strength by employing means that include stealing technology, coercing companies to disclose intellectual property, undercutting free and fair markets, failing to provide reciprocal access in research and development (R&D) projects, and promoting authoritarian practices that run counter to democratic values. The Chinese government, in its quest to develop a world-class military by mid-century, is implementing a strategy to divert emerging technologies to military programs, referred to as military-civil fusion (MCF)."
Putin's land is not portrayed in a more flattering light. "Russia views the development of advanced S&T as a national security priority, and is targeting United States technology through the employment of a variety of licit and illicit technology transfer mechanisms to support national-level efforts, including its military and intelligence programs," the document states.
By collaborating with the private sector and academia, improving network security, and implementing innovation-friendly rules, the administration believes, our country will be able to maintain its technological dominance and protect national security in the face of rising threats from China, Russia, and other competitors.
The new C&ET strategy has undoubtedly opened the door for tech companies to access federal funding, influence government policies, and even contribute to the development of beneficial international rules. "Technology leadership," the document concludes, "will require forecasting, prioritization due to limited resources, coordination with allies and partners, appropriate investments early in the development cycle, and periodic re-evaluation as technologies mature."