Showcasing our researchers’ work and their latest media appearances as they weigh in on developments at the intersection of national security and emerging technology.
Wall Street Journal
CSET Lead Analyst William Hannas was featured in a Wall Street Journal article on the ways in which China outpaces the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to sift through mass amounts of data from open sources. In his research with coauthor and Senior China S&T Specialist Huey-Meei Chang, Hannas has shown that China puts a premium on open source intelligence, also known as OSINT, and has an estimated 100,000 analysts tasked with scouring scientific and technical developments globally, mostly in the United States. In their report China’s STI Operations, Hannas and Chang note that the system for gathering such intelligence is centrally directed but “functions at all levels in separate but interlocking organizations.”
In a story about the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to ban the sale of some Chinese telecom equipment to the United States, CyberScoop turned to Research Analyst Jack Corrigan, who noted that “we will not see the full effects of it for years to come.” In his report Banned in D.C., Corrigan and his coauthors Michael Kratsios and Sergio Fontanez found that between 2015 and 2021 at least 1,681 state and local governments purchased gear from five Chinese tech companies identified as a security threat. These jurisdictions are spread across the United States — Vermont was the sole state where the authors could not find evidence of gear bought from these firms. “Organizations that use this stuff already will continue to be able to use it,” Corrigan said. “We need the government to start to prioritize these rip and replace programs.”
Corrigan also appeared on Government Matters, where he discussed the FCC’s ban on Chinese telecom equipment, the national security risks of the banned tech, and the future of U.S. technology regulation. His report has also been featured in The Washington Post, Axios, Nextgov, and Government Technology.
To reduce reliance on semiconductor manufacturing overseas, particularly in China, the United States has pushed to onshore the semiconductor industry, but European nations are lagging behind, the National Journal reported. The U.S. strategy includes using export controls and government restrictions on the use of certain chips made in China. Although the United States has fallen behind the Dutch and Japanese in extreme-ultraviolet lithography capabilities, it still leads in several other tools required to build the world’s best semiconductor chips. To catch up, Chinese companies would have to figure out how to design better chips, develop the equipment necessary to build them, and even develop the ability to make the parts for the manufacturing equipment. As Data Research Analyst Jacob Feldgoise noted, “That makes it very hard for a Chinese fabrication company to set up a new fabrication plant, because it’s not helpful to still be able to buy a lithography machine from ASML [Holding] if you can’t also buy the complementary equipment that you need to perform other steps in the chip-manufacturing process.”
The Economist reached out to Research Analyst Ngor Luong, whose work focuses on Chinese guidance funds, for her thoughts on the Chinese Communist Party’s control of state capital, otherwise called “guidance capital,” to turn China into a leader in next-generation technologies. While some money comes into the Chinese capital markets from insurers and pension funds, most comes from government-backed funds tasked with investing across public and private markets, often with a remit to support certain industries, such as semiconductor or industrial-robot makers. Luong noted that this money signals to other investors which firms are worthy of funding, meaning it carries additional weight.
The latest iteration of the National Defense Authorization Act positions the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies to responsibly and quickly adopt artificial intelligence technology, according to analysts interviewed by DefenseScoop. Senior Fellow Emelia Probasco, whose research explores military applications of AI, joined the conversation. “Where I think you see a lot of institutions right now is they declared high-level principles, which are good, and it’s great that we have listed these out and made clear values,” she said. “But we’re at that point where you have to translate those principles into actionable steps that folks in the acquisition community or in training, or in operational development can start to implement them.” Over the last year, the Department of Defense has released specific guidance on responsibly applying AI — but as Probasco pointed out, now “everybody’s trying to get to that next level of specificity that allows for the entirety of the bureaucracy to implement those principles.”
A Facebook post misstated the findings of a recent Boston University report and falsely claimed that China has built 648 new coal power plants. In fact, many of them had resulted from Chinese investment in plants overseas, and most involved not coal but other energy technologies, including wind, solar and hydropower. In a fact check of the errant social media post, USA Today used CSET’s translation of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan as a source.
In an opinion piece for Lawfare, Director of Biotechnology Programs and Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi, CSET Affiliate Andrew Imbrie, and coauthors Megan Palmer and Daniel Baer discussed biotechnology’s potential for good and for harm. They presented a set of principles that policymakers should embrace to ensure that advances in biotechnology serve humanity in the years to come. “The United States and its partners must step up with strategies for advancing biotechnology that reflect and reinforce the aspirations of democratic societies,” the authors wrote, noting, “The value proposition is simple: to create a better future by and for all people.” National security conversations around biotechnology tend to focus on weapons applications and biodefense. The authors found it imperative for the foundation of a U.S. biosecurity strategy to refrain from pursuing biological weapons. They recommended democratic countries to leverage their combined weight in three areas: capacity, collaboration, and common principles.
Tech Policy Press
In an opinion piece for Tech Policy Press, Visiting AI Junior Fellow Krystal Jackson, Research Analyst Karson Elmgren, Data Research Analyst Jacob Feldgoise, and Andrew Critch discussed the importance of computational power, also known as “compute,” as a key factor in driving AI progress. Given compute’s role in AI advances, the authors offered some best practices to track the use of these resources, including standardizing compute accounting: “There are two critical reasons for compute accounting standards: (1) to help organizations manage their compute budgets according to a set of established best practices and (2) to enable responsible oversight of AI technologies in every area of the economy.”
Spotlight on CSET Experts: Jacob Feldgoise
Jacob Feldgoise is a Data Research Analyst focused on the U.S.-China technology competition, China’s foreign influence, and emerging technologies talent flows. Previously, Jacob was a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
He has been featured in a variety of outlets including the National Journal, Nature, Marketplace, Tech Policy Press, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Interested in speaking with Jacob or our other experts? Contact External Affairs Specialist Adrienne Thompson at email@example.com.