Drought in Taiwan Stresses Chip Supply Already Under Strain: With a drought depleting its reservoirs, Taiwan asked companies to reduce water usage, raising concerns that the country’s semiconductor producers could be forced to limit output. Taiwan is home to several of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers; a drought-induced slowdown would add to a chip shortage that has seen carmakers slash production and sent consumer electronics prices soaring. Taiwan’s chipmakers are some of the country’s biggest water consumers; in 2019, TSMC — the world’s largest contract chipmaker — used more than 10% of the northern region’s daily supply. At present, Taiwanese chipmakers say they have no immediate plans to scale back production, but concerns remain that this drought could be a harbinger of things to come. While Taiwan’s dry winters are typically offset by major storms during typhoon season, last year brought no typhoons for the first time in 56 years. As climate change alters global weather patterns, some observers worry such droughts — and their widespread consequences through global supply chains — could become more common.
- More: Qualcomm, Tesla, Renesas hit by Samsung’s Texan winter | TSMC Rumored To Build $35 Billion 5nm Plant In The US | Taiwan Semiconductor suppliers announce plans to come to Arizona
IBM’s Rumored Sale of Watson Health Highlights AI’s Healthcare Difficulties: IBM is reportedly looking to sell its healthcare division, Watson Health, a potential sign of the difficulties facing AI companies trying to break into healthcare. While Watson Health has managed to bring in roughly a billion dollars in annual revenue, it is reportedly struggling to turn a profit. In many ways, IBM’s problems mirror those of its rival Google, whose DeepMind — like IBM’s Watson — gained fame for its victories against humans in games of skill (Watson on Jeopardy! and DeepMind in Go). While DeepMind has produced some revolutionary healthcare breakthroughs, it too has struggled to turn a profit. Observers say the rumored selloff highlights the difficulties of applying AI to healthcare, especially when the goals — like curing cancer and other chronic diseases — become too ambitious. For now, experts say AI may be better suited to addressing specific problems in disciplines such as radiology and pathology, or streamlining healthcare business processes.
NSCAI Releases Final Report: On Monday, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence released its final report with dozens of recommendations to the president and Congress on the future of U.S. AI strategy. Highlights include:
- A warning that the U.S. military could be at a competitive disadvantage within the next decade if it does not accelerate its AI adoption. The report recommends laying the foundation for widespread AI integration by 2025, comprising a DOD-wide digital ecosystem, a technically literate workforce, and more efficient business practices aided by AI.
- A recommendation that the White House establish a new “Technology Competitiveness Council,” led by the vice president, to develop a comprehensive technology strategy and oversee its implementation.
- A recommendation that the U.S. military explore using autonomous weapons systems, provided their use is authorized by human operators.
- A proposal to establish a new Digital Service Academy and a civilian National Reserve to cultivate domestic AI talent.
- A call to provide $35 billion in federal investment and incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
- A recommendation to double non-defense AI R&D funding annually until it reaches $32 billion per year, and to triple the number of National AI Research Institutes.
- A call for reformed export controls, coordinated with allies, on key technologies such as high-end semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
- A recommendation that Congress pass a second National Defense Education Act and reform the U.S. immigration system to attract and retain AI students and workers from abroad.
Responding to Chip Shortage, Biden Orders Review of Tech Supply Chain: Last week, President Biden issued an executive order directing four federal departments to conduct 100-day supply chain reviews of critical goods and technologies, including semiconductors and rare earth elements. In his remarks announcing the order, Biden, holding a computer chip for emphasis, highlighted the recent semiconductor shortage that has affected wide swathes of the economy. While the order does not call for specific policy changes, Biden said he would push Congress to provide $37 billion in funding for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. White House officials said the president was referring to measures included in the recent National Defense Authorization Act that authorized federal incentives for domestic chipmaking but did not appropriate specific funds. In addition to the 100-day reviews, the order directs a number of departments to submit reports within the next year on the critical supply chains under their purview. The order specifically directs the Pentagon to highlight “areas where civilian supply chains are dependent upon competitor nations” in its report.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands With Help of AI: NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars last month, outfitted with several AI systems that will help carry out its mission. While its predecessor Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, had some autonomous capabilities, Perseverance incorporates a number of new and upgraded systems that make it the most AI-enabled rover NASA has ever deployed. One such system, Terrain Relative Navigation, proved its value during the successful landing: it compared real-time sensor data to a map of the landing area, identified potential hazards in the landing zone, and autonomously steered to avoid them. Now that Perseverance is safely on the ground, it will use an autonomous navigation system that will help make it faster than previous rovers. Perseverance also features an improved version of the AEGIS intelligent targeting system that Curiosity used to aim its ChemCam tool and fire its laser spectrometer.
Dems Introduce Immigration Bill: On February 18, Congressional Democrats introduced a major immigration bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, proposed by President Biden on his first day in office and designed to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. While the centerpiece of the bill is an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, it also contains several sections relevant to the U.S. technology workforce, including:
- Sec. 3401 exempts doctoral STEM graduates of U.S. universities from yearly numerical caps on employment-based green cards.
- Sec. 3402 exempts from the yearly numerical caps long-backlogged green card applicants, those waiting 10 years or more, as well as family members of all green card applicants.
- Sec. 3403 eliminates the per-country cap on employment-based immigrants.
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
PRC Patent Documents: CSET has translated a pair of Chinese government documents pertaining to its intellectual property policies.
- Notice of the China National Intellectual Property Administration on More Strictly Regulating Patent Applications. This notice by the China National Intellectual Property Administration — which oversees Chinese patent and trademark applications — orders PRC local governments to halt all financial assistance programs that incentivize large quantities of patent applications. It makes the elimination of low-quality and fraudulent patents a major priority in 2021 and introduces increasingly severe punishments for those who attempt to file patents for technologies and processes that are not truly innovative.
- Certain Opinions of the Ministry of Education, the China National Intellectual Property Administration, and the Ministry of Science and Technology on Improving the Quality of Patents at Institutes of Higher Education and Promoting [Patent] Conversion and Use. This policy document, issued by the PRC Ministry of Education in 2020, encourages Chinese universities to focus on improving the quality, rather than quantity, of their patents. The document eliminates subsidies for patent applications, bars universities from using professors’ and departments’ numbers of patent applications as a metric in performance evaluations, and bans ranking of universities by their number of patent applications.
What We’re Reading
Report: 2021 AI Index Report, Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (March 2021)
Report: Keeping Score: A New Approach to Geopolitical Forecasting, Michael C. Horowitz, Julia Ciocca, Lauren Kahn and Christian Ruhl, Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania (February 2021)
Article: First Chinese Province Scraps Residency Restrictions, Zhang Wanqing, Sixth Tone (February 2021)
Article: China’s Counter-Strategy to American Export Controls in Integrated Circuits, Douglas B. Fuller, China Leadership Monitor (March 2021)
What’s New at CSET
- The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s final report cited 21 CSET publications:
- Automating Cyber Attacks by Ben Buchanan, John Bansemer, Dakota Cary, Jack Lucas and Micah Musser
- Tracking AI Investment by Zachary Arnold, Ilya Rahkovsky and Tina Huang
- Destructive Cyber Operations and Machine Learning by Dakota Cary and Daniel Cebul
- Chinese Public AI R&D Spending: Provisional Findings by Ashwin Acharya and Zachary Arnold
- Strengthening the U.S. AI Workforce by Remco Zwetsloot, Roxanne Heston and Zachary Arnold
- Keeping Top AI Talent in the United States by Remco Zwetsloot, James Dunham, Zachary Arnold and Tina Huang
- Immigration Policy and the Global Competition for AI Talent by Tina Huang and Zachary Arnold
- Immigration Policy and the U.S. AI Sector by Zachary Arnold, Roxanne Heston, Remco Zwetsloot and Tina Huang
- Mapping U.S. Multinationals’ Global AI R&D Activity by Roxanne Heston and Remco Zwetsloot
- Patents and Artificial Intelligence: A Primer by Patrick Thomas and Dewey Murdick
- Recommendations on Export Controls for Artificial Intelligence by Carrick Flynn
- Overseas Professionals and Technology Transfer to China by Ryan Fedasiuk and Emily Weinstein
- China’s Access to Foreign AI Technology by William Hannas and Huey-Meei Chang
- Securing Semiconductor Supply Chains by Saif M. Khan
- The Youth Thousand Talents Plan and China’s Military by Ryan Fedasiuk and Jacob Feldgoise
- China’s Approach to Tech Talent Competition: Policies, Results, and the Developing Global Response by Remco Zwetsloot
- Designing Alternatives to China’s Repressive Surveillance State by Dahlia Peterson
- System Re-engineering by Melissa Flagg and Paul Harris
- Agile Alliances by Andrew Imbrie, Ryan Fedasiuk, Catherine Aiken, Tarun Chhabra and Husanjot Chahal
- The Question of Comparative Advantage in Artificial Intelligence: Enduring Strengths and Emerging Challenges for the United States by Andrew Imbrie, Elsa Kania and Lorand Laskai
- A New Institutional Approach to Research Security in the United States by Melissa Flagg and Zachary Arnold
- Brookings: Building trust in human-machine teams by Margarita Konaev and Husanjot Chahal
- ChinaTalk Podcast: Beyond Espionage: China’s Quest for Foreign Technology featuring Anna Puglisi and Ryan Fedasiuk
CSET has launched a crowd forecasting platform. Sign up as a forecaster, and take a look at some of the predictions so far:
- (New) Will Xi Jinping be General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee on December 31, 2022?
- (New) Will the Chinese military or other maritime security forces fire upon another country’s civil or military vessel in the South China Sea between July 1 and December 31, 2021, inclusive?
- (New) What will the combined revenue of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft be in the second half of 2021?
IN THE NEWS
- Lawfare: An article about U.S. competition with China cited Emily Weinstein’s comments about the value of open source intelligence from a recent episode of the ChinaTalk podcast.
- Reuters: Weinstein also spoke to Reuters for a story about protecting U.S. research from Chinese espionage.
- Forbes: An article about the NSCAI’s recommendations for immigration reform cited our report Keeping Top AI Talent in the United States.
- Inside Higher Ed: Anna Puglisi discussed whether China is exploiting its talent programs to target U.S. innovation in this report on the U.S. government’s “China Initiative.”
- March 4: U.S.-Ukraine Security Council Dialogue XII, Divining the New Administration’s Approach to Ukraine’s Most Pressing Security Issues featuring Katerina Sedova
- March 4: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Assessing and Improving AI Trustworthiness: Current Contexts, Potential Paths
- March 5: CNAS, Artificial Intelligence and the Role of Confidence-Building Measures featuring Helen Toner
- March 18: CSET, Legal, Illegal and Extralegal: China’s Pursuit of its Tech Future featuring Ryan Fedasiuk, Emily Weinstein and Anna Puglisi
- March 23: Asser Institute, Trusted Partners: Human-Machine Teaming and the Future of Military AI featuring Margarita Konaev
What else is going on? Suggest stories, documents to translate & upcoming events here.