With a new year, a new Congress, and a new president on the way, our experts are weighing in on the biggest news in national security and emerging technology, from Russia’s massive cyber espionage operation against the United States to the future of U.S.-China relations under the Biden administration.
American Public Media
CSET Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi appeared on American Public Media’s well-regarded “Marketplace” for a story about the unsuccessful theft of U.S. semiconductor technology by a Taiwan-based manufacturer with links to a state-owned Chinese company. Puglisi explained why the alleged spies were after U.S. technical blueprints. “Technical knowledge is as important as the actual widgets,” she told Marketplace’s Scott Tong, “That’s what we’re talking about. It’s the art of making something. It’s the know-how that makes it so much more challenging.”
National Public Radio
A different senior CSET expert, another espionage case covered in depth on public radio. Last month, news broke that hackers tied to Russia’s foreign intelligence service had infiltrated several U.S. federal agencies and hundreds of U.S. companies. In the week after news of the hack became known, CSET’s Ben Buchanan appeared on WBUR’s nationally syndicated Here & Now to discuss the details. The attack is “one of the most significant cyber espionage operations we’ve seen in quite a while,” Buchanan said, “the scale here is simply remarkable.”
Buchanan, who directs CSET’s Cybersecurity and AI project and published a book last year about the evolution of cyberwarfare, was in high demand after the SolarWinds cyber espionage operation came to light. In addition to his WBUR appearance and others, he spoke with the Associated Press for a story about the attack’s links to Russia. While it can be difficult to identify the perpetrators of cyber operations, Buchanan told the AP that the fact that several investigating agencies had attributed the hack to Russia “removes any remaining serious doubts about the perpetrators.”
The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill and The Diplomat
Last week, President-elect Joe Biden announced several new members of his National Security Council staff, including soon-to-be-former CSET Senior Fellow Tarun Chhabra. Chhabra, who served on the NSC staff under President Obama as Director for Strategic Planning and Director for Human Rights and National Security Issues, will become the Senior Director for Technology and National Security. Word of Chhabra’s appointment was picked up by several news outlets, including The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill and The Diplomat.
Even though Chhabra is set to fly the coop soon, he is still making a mark in his final days at CSET. For a recent article about the U.S.-China relationship under President Biden in The Nation, Jeet Heer interviewed Chhabra about how China’s human rights record affects cooperation between Washington and Beijing. “Human rights cannot be ‘put aside,’ as Beijing recently proposed, or otherwise compartmented in the US-China relationship,” Chhabra told Heer. “The deepening horror of Beijing’s atrocities in Xinjiang, the betrayal of its commitments in Hong Kong, and the development and export of the surveillance state will drive the US-China relationship as well as [fuel] China’s plummeting relations with the broader free world. It is also galvanizing cooperation among democracies on issues from trade to security to technology. And it will, and should, circumscribe a broad array of interaction and cooperation with China, in ways that many on both sides may not yet have come to terms with.”
Tens of thousands of international students get degrees related to artificial intelligence in the United States every year. Many of them stay in the country after graduation — including more than 80 percent of AI PhD graduates — providing a valuable source of talent for the U.S. AI industry. A Vice article about the future of U.S.-China competition under Biden cited the 2019 CSET report “Keeping Top AI Talent in the United States,” which found that tightening immigration restrictions were beginning to hinder the United States’ ability to retain top international AI talent.
National Defense Magazine
In October, CSET researchers Jacob Feldgoise and Remco Zwetsloot published a brief on Chinese undergrads and graduate students in the United States in STEM fields. A recent article by National Defense Magazine editor-in-chief Stew Magnuson cited the finding that there were 45,720 undergraduates studying agriculture, biology, computers, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences and 76,060 studying those subjects at the graduate level.
Towards Data Science Podcast
Helen Toner, CSET’s Director of Strategy, appeared on the Towards Data Science podcast earlier this month to discuss AI policy, the national security implications of AI, China’s AI capabilities, and the eternal question: “What is CSET?”
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