On October 15, 2020, the White House released a report, “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies,” outlining steps the United States will take to preserve its competitive edge in certain critical and emerging technologies. Noting in a statement the importance of U.S. dominance in the science and technology sectors, the White House press secretary indicated that, “The United States will not turn a blind eye to the tactics of countries like China and Russia, which steal technology, coerce companies into handing over intellectual property, undercut free and fair markets, and surreptitiously divert emerging civilian technologies to build up their militaries.” The report briefly summarizes the efforts both China and Russia are undertaking to develop and advance their science and technology sectors, including both licit and illicit efforts of technology transfers, coercing companies to disclose intellectual property, illicit procurement networks, requiring access to source code from technology companies seeking to do business in their countries, and promoting authoritarian practices that run counter to democratic values.

For the purposes of the national strategy, critical and emerging technologies are defined as “those technologies that have been identified and assessed by the National Security Council (NSC) to be critical, or to potentially become critical, to the United States’ national security advantage, including military, intelligence, and economic advantages.” The report identifies 20 specific areas:

  • Advanced Computing
  • Advanced Conventional Weapons Technologies
  • Advanced Engineering Materials
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Advanced Sensing
  • Aero-Engine Technologies
  • Agricultural Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Biotechnologies
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Mitigation Technologies
  • Communication and Networking Technologies
  • Data Science and Storage
  • Distributed Ledger Technologies
  • Energy Technologies
  • Human-Machine Interfaces
  • Medical and Public Health Technologies
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Semiconductors and Microelectronics
  • Space Technologies

The report states that the United States, with its allies and partners, will promote continued leadership in critical and emerging technology by Promot[ing] the National Security Innovation Base (NSIB) (Pillar I) and Protect[ing Our] Technology Advantage (Pillar II). Promote the NSIB entails investing in STEM education, an advanced technical workforce; and early-stage research and development. The report also calls for innovation-friendly regulations; venture capital investment; collaboration between the U.S. governments, academia, and the private sector; and, working with allies and partners. Protect Technology Advantage includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that competitors do not use illicit means to acquire United States companies’ intellectual property and technologies, appropriate application of export controls, and encouraging allies to develop national security restrictions on foreign investment similar to the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.