Remarks by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the Special Competitive Studies Project Global Emerging Technologies Summit
As prepared for delivery
Congratulations to the entire SCSP team on the release of your report.
A little over a year ago, at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, I had the opportunity to share a few thoughts on the digital revolution.
I argued that after the liberalizing wave of innovations of the early internet era and after the authoritarian counter-revolution of the 2000s, when our competitors and adversaries took advantage of our complacency and inherent openness we must usher in a “third wave” of the digital revolution—to ensure that emerging technologies work for, not against, our democracies and security.
I don’t need to tell you that advancements in science and technology are poised to define the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century.
They will generate game-changers in health and medicine, food security, and clean energy.
We’ll see leap-ahead breakthroughs and new industries that drive our prosperity.
And, of course, new military and intelligence capabilities that will shape our national security.
Preserving our edge in science and technology is not a “domestic issue” or “national security” issue. It’s both.
Under President Biden’s leadership, we have built into the foundation of our approach a deep integration of domestic policy and foreign policy and a focus on issues that spill out of these two traditional siloes.
As part of that, we are pursuing a modern industrial and innovation strategy to invest in our sources of strength at home, which also powers our strength around the world.
We know there is nothing inevitable about maintaining our core strength and comparative advantage in the world. It must be renewed, revitalized, and stewarded. And that is especially true for U.S. technological leadership.
In line with the vision I laid out last year, we see four pillars at the heart of our strategy:
First, investing in our science and technology ecosystem;
Second, nurturing top STEM talent;
Third, protecting our technology advantages;
And fourth, deepening and integrating our alliances and partnerships.
Fundamentally, we believe that a select few technologies are set to play an outsized importance over the coming decade. Much like the Pareto Principle, we can imagine that eighty percent of our overall success will turn on what we do in twenty percent of the technologies.
We basically believe three families of technologies will be of particular importance over the coming decade:
- Computing-related technologies, including microelectronics, quantum information systems, and artificial intelligence.
Advancements in computing hardware, algorithmic design, and large-scale datasets are leading to new discoveries in virtually every scientific field. They are new sources of economic growth. They are also driving advanced military modernization efforts.
- Biotechnologies and biomanufacturing.
We now can read, write, and edit genetic code, which has rendered biology programmable. Together with advances in computing, we are poised for breakthroughs in everything from drug discovery to chemical and material manufacturing.
- And finally, clean energy technologies.
The global transition to clean energy is not only necessary for the health of our planet, but it will also be a major source of economic and jobs growth in the coming years. And it will ensure long-term U.S. energy independence and energy security.
That is not to say that other technologies initiatives are inconsequential – far from it.
In fact, as an example, just this morning, the Administration released important recommendations for action to preserve U.S. leadership on digital assets.
But computing-related technologies, biotech, and clean tech are truly “force multipliers” throughout the tech ecosystem. And leadership in each of these is a national security imperative.
This brings me to the first pillar of our technology strategy: recharging the engine of American technological dynamism and innovation, especially in these foundational sectors.
Over the last year, the Biden Administration has made historic investments, and not just in basic research. We are investing in industries of the future and strengthening the resilience and security of the supply chains that underpin them.
Over the past month alone, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, an Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The CHIPS Act invests $52 billion to restore U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and R&D and reduce our overreliance on foreign-produced chips.
It is an investment larger than the real cost of the Manhattan Project. On top of this, it also authorizes the largest single-year percentage increase in overall federal funding of basic scientific research in seventy years.
And now we just need Congress to appropriate that funding.
The EO on Biotech and Biomanufacturing ensures that we not only design the next generation of medicines, materials, and fuels here, but also make them here. From lab to fab, as they say.
And the Inflation Reduction Act hardly needs me to elaborate on its impact. It is the single largest investment in climate and clean energy solutions in American history.
With each of these investments, our goal is to “crowd in” private capital, not replace it, and to attract “patient capital” to bring critical technologies to scale. Particularly for next-generation energy technologies such as clean hydrogen and fusion, a proactive investment strategy now may save us billions of dollars later.
We are also charting the way for large-scale technological infrastructure projects that will serve as national assets, like a potential National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource, which would make advanced AI and computing infrastructure available to any researcher in the United States.
The second pillar is developing, attracting, and retaining top talent.
The easiest way we can achieve this goal is ensuring the United States remains the preferred destination for all premier STEM talent around the globe.
This means investing in our domestic research and education pipelines, and also ensuring top foreign talent can come and stay in the United States. China is doubling down on its STEM talent production, but attracting and retaining the world’s best STEM talent is an advantage that’s ours to lose.
We have made some important progress on this front. Early this year, we announced a series of measures to streamline the immigration process and open new pathways for international STEM students and researchers.
We also issued new guidance eliminating the need to have a sponsoring U.S. employer for highly accomplished individuals with an advanced degree in a STEM field that is critical to U.S. national security. Such individuals can now apply for a National Interest Waiver, and self-petition for an EB-2 visa.
This is good. But we need to do more. We are ready to work with industry and with Congress on a bipartisan basis to capitalize on what is truly America’s superpower.
The third pillar is protecting our technology advantages, and preventing our competitors from stealing America’s intellectual property, and using our technologies against us or their own people.
Our competitors are using increasingly sophisticated means to illicitly acquire sensitive technologies, information, and know-how, and we must adapt accordingly.
On export controls, we have to revisit the longstanding premise of maintaining “relative” advantages over competitors in certain key technologies. We previously maintained a “sliding scale” approach that said we need to stay only a couple of generations ahead.
That is not the strategic environment we are in today.
Given the foundational nature of certain technologies, such as advanced logic and memory chips, we must maintain as large of a lead as possible.
Earlier this year, the United States and our allies and partners levied on Russia the most stringent technology restrictions ever imposed on a major economy. These measures have inflicted tremendous costs, forcing Russia to use chips from dishwashers in its military equipment.
This has demonstrated that technology export controls can be more than just a preventative tool. If implemented in a way that is robust, durable, and comprehensive, they can be a new strategic asset in the U.S. and allied toolkit to impose costs on adversaries, and even over time degrade their battlefield capabilities.
The Administration also has taken a series of steps to modernize our investment screening systems. Just yesterday, President Biden issued an Executive Order providing the first formal Presidential guidance to CFIUS in the history of the Committee.
The order puts us back ahead of the game. It bolsters CFIUS’ ability to defend against evolving risks by directing the Committee to consider, in connection with countries of concern, a new set of specific risk factors, such as whether a transaction impacts U.S. leadership in technologies relevant to national security, or presents risks to U.S. persons’ data.
We will continue to examine whether additional steps are necessary to best posture CFIUS to protect U.S. investors from predatory foreign investments.
Looking forward, we are making progress in formulating an approach to address outbound investments in sensitive technologies, particularly investments that would not be captured by export controls and could enhance the technological capabilities of our competitors in the most sensitive areas.
And we worked closely with Congress to ensure the CHIPS Act contains robust guardrails that prevent companies that receive taxpayer money from turning around and making investments in China that undermine our national security.
In all cases, we fully intend for industry to have an opportunity to provide input at the right time and intend to proceed in a way that is clear for stakeholders and tailored to our national security concerns.
Protecting our tech innovation from theft or abuse also requires strong cybersecurity protections. Through President Biden’s Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity last year, and subsequent directives, we have taken a wide range of steps necessary to defend our nation from one of the most pressing threats to our economic and national security.
Finally, we have instituted measures to ensure the intellectual property behind our most innovative technologies is protected. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a new pilot program that accelerates patent applications for innovations that reduce emissions, so these products can be deployed rapidly without risking their intellectual property.
The fourth and final pillar is deepening our cooperation with allies and partners, a true hallmark of the Biden Administration.
From transforming the G7 into a steering committee of the free world on issues like sanctions and energy security to launching an innovative and far-reaching security partnership on advanced capabilities called AUKUS we are deepening our unrivaled network of alliances and partnerships and driving a strategic alignment across the Atlantic and the Pacific.
We created the U.S.-E.U. Trade and Technology Council to help shape the rules of the road on emerging technology, including through technical standards bodies.
We have established new initiatives on clean energy and on critical and emerging technologies within the Quad.
In the G7, we have launched new efforts on cyber and quantum, and are prepared to deploy tens of billions of dollars for tech infrastructure development through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
Just last week we hosted the first in-person Ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which includes dedicated efforts on clean energy and digital cooperation.
We have started new senior-level bilateral initiatives on technology cooperation with Israel, India, Korea, and Japan.
We announced technology initiatives at the Summit for Democracy, which included efforts to align international export control regulations with human rights objectives, and to promote democracy-affirming and privacy-enhancing technologies.
On 5G, we are working with allies and partners in fora such as the Quad and the U.S.-E.U. Trade and technology council to develop trusted telecommunications infrastructure, to include Open-RAN solutions that are secure, effective, and promote existing U.S. and allied technological advantages.
We have scaled-up our efforts with allies and partners to share actionable cyber threat information and to hold bad cyber actors accountable for their malicious conduct.
These are all points on the board. But we are also connecting the dots, linking all of our efforts with like-minded economies into an integrated strategy built on the premise that we are stronger when we leverage the capabilities and common purpose of friends and allies.
Almost two years into the Biden Administration, we have reinforced the foundations on which American power and influence sit.
Last year, I noted the enormity of the task we faced in redesigning the field on which future technology competition would play out.
And we are facing a competitor that is determined to overtake U.S. technological leadership and willing to devote nearly limitless resources to that goal.
But the last 20 months – indeed just the last several weeks – have shown how powerfully and effectively we are leading.
We have made historically unprecedented investments, putting us back on track to lead in the industries of the future.
We are doubling down on our efforts to be a magnet for the world’s top technical talent.
We have adapted our technology protection tools to new geopolitical realities.
And most importantly, we have done this in a way that is inclusive, force-multiplying, and consistent with our values.
At home, many of our efforts have been bipartisan. And overseas, many of them have been in lockstep with our allies and partners.
The work ahead of us remains significant. But taking stock of where we are today, it’s clear that America is rising to the moment. Thank you very much.