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Lawmakers propose ‘Technology Competitiveness Council’ to champion US innovation

A soldier wears virtual reality glasses; a graphic depiction of a chess set sits in the foreground.

WASHINGTON — House lawmakers proposed a bill that would establish a “Technology Competitiveness Council” to help drive innovation in national security, after an independent commission found the U.S. is at risk of falling behind in the race for supremacy in artificial intelligence.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced Tuesday by Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Conor Lamb, D-Pa. and Salud Carbajal, D-Calif. Along with establishing the council, to be chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, the bill would create the office of assistant to the president for technology competitiveness to oversee initiatives such as the crafting a national technology strategy and aligning policy and budget priorities.

“The significance of this council and its ability to foster innovation between the federal government and the private sector cannot be understated,” Bacon said in a statement. “We cannot afford to remain stagnant as foreign actors attempt to surpass our nation through intellectual theft, electronic supply chain monopolies and advancements in artificial intelligence capabilities.”

The proposal comes in response to the final report from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which ceased operations in October, that pointed to lagging innovation, particularly in national security. It placed particular emphasis on the need for the U.S. to better grasp the implications of AI to “reorganize the world” and take a leadership role in developing that technology.

If the bill is passed, the council will be required to complete a national strategy within one year of its signing that would assess U.S. efforts to maintain leadership in emerging technologies as well as the “relative competitiveness” of domestic sectors compared with countries including China and Russia. It would also recommend policy incentives to sustain U.S. innovation and identify investments needs for high-priority research and development work that’s not being conducted in the private sector.

The Department of Defense is crafting its own national defense science and technology strategy focused on maintaining global superiority. Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu is leading the development and hasn’t indicated when it will be completed.