Today, the United States is releasing an updated list of critical and emerging technologies (CETs) that can play an important role in our nation’s security. Last updated in 2020, this list represents a subset of novel, advanced technologies with the potential to chart new pathways in American innovation and strengthen our national security.

The 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance defines three national security objectives: (1) protect the security of the American people; (2) expand economic prosperity and opportunity; and (3) realize and defend democratic values. The 2021 CET list identifies the technology areas that currently hold the greatest potential to further those objectives in the future – and, for the first time, it also includes several specific subfields under each technology area.

This list will be a useful resource that guides new and existing efforts to promote U.S. technological leadership, cooperate with allies and partners, advance democratic values, attract and retain diverse science and technology talent from around the world, and protect against threats to U.S. security. For example, on January 21, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency in DHS, put in effect new policy guidance governing National Interest Waivers that utilizes the concept of CETs. The guidance stated that “USCIS recognizes the importance of progress in STEM fields and the essential role of persons with advanced STEM degrees in fostering this progress, especially in focused critical and emerging technologies or other STEM areas important to U.S. competitiveness or national security.” The CET list will be a useful reference as we chart a path for future American innovation and national security.

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