CSET’s researchers are turning up the heat this summer, offering their expertise on subjects at the intersection of national security and emerging technology. Media have sought our experts’ views on China’s STEM Ph.D. production, the U.S. Department of Defense’s use of innovative technology, GPT-3 and more.
A new CSET report shows that China is surpassing the United States in the production of STEM Ph.D. students, and the gap is only widening. Axios spoke with Research Fellow Remco Zwetsloot to understand why education trends in STEM matter, and what a widening gap could mean for the future of the U.S. STEM workforce. The authors of the report project that China will have 77,000 Ph.D. STEM students by 2025, compared with 44,000 in this country. “If this continues, there seems to be no way the U.S. can continue competing with China on the talent front without immigration reform. It is just a numbers game,” said Zwetsloot.
Even after the cyberattack on Microsoft prompted discussion on increasing cyber defense and exposing China’s malicious cyber activity, the U.S. government has yet to address the elephant in the room: U.S. companies housing AI research labs in China, according to an opinion piece in Defense One. The item cited “Mapping Research Agendas in U.S. Corporate AI Laboratories,” in which our experts found that 10 percent of the AI research labs of Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft were based in China.
The U.S. government’s denial of visas to Chinese students is costing talent and benefiting China in the long-term, according to a Forbes article. CSET experts Remco Zwetsloot, Emily Weinstein and Ryan Fedasiuk assessed the scope of U.S. visa restriction on Chinese students and found that roughly 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese graduate students are being turned away from studying in the United States.
In their report “Ending Innovation Tourism,” Melissa Flagg and Jack Corrigan examine the U.S. Department of Defense’s shortcomings in incorporating innovative technology strategically. Nextgov reached out to the authors to learn what DOD can do to effectively utilize innovative technology. According to Jack Corrigan, “You would first need to require the innovation offices to compile all of this knowledge and market intelligence into a single database and share that with the acquisition offices … so they would need to show how they’ve incorporated all of this market intelligence into the solicitations that they are putting out, and when they don’t incorporate that information, they would need to explain why. And for us, that is the single recommendation that we think is most critical to solving this problem.”
Flagg and Corrigan’s report also featured prominently in Politico’s National Security Daily newsletter, which highlighted that DOD’s “various innovation offices aren’t to blame, the authors conclude. Instead, the problem stems from ‘a failure of the department’s leadership to integrate them into the broader DOD acquisition ecosystem. … [U]nder the DOD’s current organizational structure, defense innovation is disconnected from defense procurement.’ ”
To boost the United States’ scientific and technological competitiveness, the National Science and Technology Strategy Act would create a comprehensive science and technology strategy and policy to ensure R&D funds are being well spent. National Journal reached out to CSET’s Director of Cyber AI John Bansemer on the long-term utility of a comprehensive S&T strategy every four years. “Too often, strategies at the national level are good at describing aspirations but not as strong at describing how to meet the overall goals. Put another way, strategies, particularly high-level ones, tend to focus on the ends and less on the means and ways,” Bansemer said.
South China Morning Post
The South China Morning Post recapped the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s hearing on “Beijing’s Long Arm: Threats to U.S. National Security.” CSET Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi testified at the hearing, offering her findings and recommendations to counter China’s S&T collection efforts against the United States. “The reality that China is presenting is inconvenient to those that are benefiting in the short term,” Puglisi said. “This includes companies looking for short-term profits, academics that benefit personally from funding and cheap labor in their laboratories and former government officials who cash in as lobbyists for China’s state-owned and state-supported companies.” CSET’s Director of Strategy Helen Toner also made an appearance in the South China Morning Post discussing the Biden administration’s China technology policy amidst the ongoing U.S.-China strategic competition. “This is the first time we’ve had two major powers in strategic competition under conditions of globalization. There isn’t a playbook for what it looks like. Everyone talks about decoupling, but decoupling can mean many different things. So what are the kinds of ties that are problematic? That is something that we are just muddling through right now and still finding answers,” Toner said.
At Black Hat’s 2021 conference, CSET’s Andrew Lohn and Micah Musser presented their research using GPT-3 to create disinformation campaigns in order to prompt action on preventing such misuse of the technology. They spoke with SC Magazine about their findings and the future of disinformation. “There’s not a lot of hope for picking out what is a GPT-3-written thing versus what is a human-written thing. If you look at what humans write in the disinformation space and what is just generally on the internet, always the highest bar to exceed,” said Lohn. “GPT-3 might not win the Nobel Prize in literature, but it can probably write disinformation tweets that are indistinguishable.”
While some kids are building campfires and roasting marshmallows, others are learning about AI at summer camp. Quartz cited a new report by Claire Perkins and Kayla Goode on U.S. AI summer camps to learn more about an AI-focused education for grades K-12. According to the CSET report, at least 447 AI summer camps have opened in 48 states in the United States.
Spotlight on CSET Experts: Will Hunt
Will Hunt focuses on the semiconductor workforce and supply chain issues.
His latest publications include China’s Progress in Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment, The Chipmakers: U.S. Strengths and Priorities for the High-End Semiconductor Workforce, and America’s Supply Chain Needs High-Skilled Migrants. His work has been featured in Wired, The New York Times, Forbes, Emerging Brew, and many more. He also recently testified before the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research (STAR) Subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee on “Microelectronics: Levers for Promoting Security and Innovation,” where he offered recommendations to advance the United States’ semiconductor industry.
Interested in speaking with Will or our other experts? Contact External Affairs Specialist Adrienne Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org