Competition Between TSMC and Intel Heats Up: With the global semiconductor shortage showing few signs of abating, the world’s biggest chipmakers are pouring billions into new factories (and courting governments willing to foot some of the bill):
NSCAI Summit Features AI Remarks From D.C. Big-Wigs: Earlier this month, the National Security Commission for Artificial Intelligence hosted a summit in Washington, D.C., that featured remarks from a who’s who of U.S. policymakers and foreign representatives. The summit served as a capstone to the commission’s work and publication of its final report. Speakers included Secretaries Austin, Blinken and Raimondo, Senators Schumer, Ernst, Warner and Young, OSTP Director Eric Lander, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, as well as a number of foreign dignitaries, including Executive Vice President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Topics that featured prominently included: strategic competition with China, the importance of partnerships between like-minded democracies, the need to maintain and support democratic values, and the failure of the United States and its allies to lead the way on international standard setting for emerging technologies, such as 5G and AI. During his remarks, Secretary Austin announced plans to direct $1.5 billion over the next five years to the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (though funding will ultimately be up to Congress — see the story below) and confirmed that the JAIC has been elevated to report to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks, per the NSCAI’s recommendation. Sullivan, meanwhile, painted a grim picture of the future of U.S.-China technological competition absent significant federal investment and international cooperation, and to that end endorsed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act passed last month by the Senate (for more on that bill, see our recent coverage).
Executive Branch Appointment News — Nominations & Withdrawals: President Biden announced his intent to nominate Laurie E. Locasio to be director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, while Michael Brown withdrew his nomination to become the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition. Locasio worked at NIST for more than three decades before joining the University of Maryland system in 2017. If confirmed, Locasio would oversee NIST during a significant expansion — the Biden administration proposed a 45 percent funding increase for the agency as part of its 2022 budget request. While Locasio’s appointment process has thus far been relatively drama-free, Michael Brown’s was anything but. His request to have his nomination withdrawn following a re-surfaced complaint from a former civil servant in the DOD — where Brown headed the Defense Innovation Unit — was lambasted as a “national security disaster” by Slate’s longtime “War Stories” columnist, Fred Kaplan. Brown remains the head of DIU, but his appointment had been seen as a “potential sea change” for DOD, and the withdrawn nomination leaves the Pentagon’s acquisition operation in flux. A replacement has not yet been named.
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