Proposal Would Also Increase Research Investments for AI, Quantum Computing
Left to Right: Rep. Ro Khanna, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Todd Young and Rep. Mike Gallagher
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that calls for investing $100 billion in research on science and emerging technologies, including cybersecurity, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
The Endless Frontier Act aims to boost technological innovation and research in the U.S. by focusing on certain key technologies. It’s not clear how much funding the bill would provide for cybersecurity research.
The bill was introduced this week by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif, and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., along with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana.
The legislation calls for expanding the mission of the National Science Foundation and treating scientific research as a national security priority.
COVID-19 has shown once again how America can’t afford to continue our decades-long underinvestment in science & tech
We’re announcing the Endless Frontiers Act to boost funding by over $100 billion for scientific research & build new tech hubs nationwidehttps://t.co/VlviMxA7SC
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 27, 2020
The Endless Frontier Act also calls for the Department of Commerce to distribute an additional $10 billion over five years for the designation of regional technology hubs. The bill would target its financial support to help ensure the research investments translate into the creation of new companies, manufacturing and other tech jobs.
Khanna noted in a statement: “Particularly at a moment when so many folks are in need of stable employment, Congress should do everything in our power to develop sustainable industries across our country that will be here to stay, or else risk losing our competitive edge to China.”
Foundation Would Be Renamed
The legislation proposes renaming the National Science Foundation as the National Science and Technology Foundation and appointing two deputy directors – one to oversee existing operations and one to oversee the new technology directorate.
Under the bill, the new technology directorate would receive $100 billion from 2021 to 2025 to invest in 10 focus areas that will be reviewed and updated every four years. These are:
- Cybersecurity, data storage and data management technologies;
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning;
- Quantum computing and information systems;
- High-performance computing, semiconductors and advanced computer hardware;
- Robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing;
- Natural or anthropogenic disaster prevention;
- Advanced communications technology;
- Biotechnology, genomics and synthetic biology;
- Advanced energy technology;
- Materials science, engineering and exploration relevant to the other key technology areas
The bill would increase research spending at universities, support creation of focused research centers, provide funds for scholarships for undergraduate students and offer financial support for graduate fellowships as well post-doctorate studies in the targeted areas.
Because tech jobs in the U.S. are now concentrated in a few locations, the bill proposes investing $10 billion through the Commerce Department over the next five years to build 10 to 15 technology hubs across the nation.
In January, another bill was introduced that would require the Department of Homeland Security to appoint cybersecurity leaders in each state to help combat growing cyber threats against units of local government (see: Bill Would Create State Cybersecurity Leader Positions)
In addition, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission released a report in March that included 75 recommendations for improving cybersecurity throughout the U.S. as well as developing new ways to prevent cyberattacks and election interference (see: Commission Calls for Revamping US Cybersecurity)