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U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Boost U.S. Tech Industry

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The U.S. Senate approved a bill that aims to reinvigorate the nation’s technological footprint in the face of growing international competition. The legislation, called the Innovation and Competition Act, was lauded by the U.S. President. This bill would make generational investments in research and development and advanced manufacturing to help grow critical tech industries and win the jobs of the future.

The legislation will discover, build, and enhance tomorrow’s most vital technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), computer chips, semiconductor production, robotics lithium batteries used in smart devices and electric vehicles. By strengthening innovation infrastructure, more jobs in manufacturing and technology will be created.

The centrepiece of the bill is a $50 billion emergency allotment to the Commerce Department to stand up semiconductor development and manufacturing through research and incentive programs previously authorised by Congress. This is the biggest investment in scientific research that the country has seen in decades.

If America wants to keep leading the world in science and technology, the federal government must invest in science, basic research and technological innovation. Whoever wins the race to the technologies of the future is going to be the global economic leader with profound consequences for foreign policy and national security.

One of the bill’s provisions would create a new directorate focused on AI and quantum science with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill would authorise up to $29 billion over five years for the new branch within the foundation with an additional $52 billion for its programs.  The agency finances about a quarter of all federally supported sci-tech research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

According to an article, the expanded legislation would provide $52 billion in assistance to semiconductor manufacturing companies to make computer chips, which have been in a global shortage since last summer. The shortage has affected manufacturers and automakers that use the chips in vehicles, cellphones and video game consoles. In addition, it would establish tech hubs in places they have not traditionally existed.

Investment in tech education is one of the most important aspects of the bill, along with the fundamental focus on applied science research. Supporting the geographical spread of innovation will be transformative.

Moreover, the House has introduced another similar piece of legislation: the NSF for the Future Act. Both bills focus on expanding the NSF’s budget to boost American innovation. The Act also includes a new directorate for science and engineering solutions. Some senates wanted legislation that focuses more on applied science with a new tech directorate instead of tech competition with other countries.

The solutions-driven approach in the NSF for the Future Act offers the nation a win-win science and innovation strategy. History teaches that problem-solving can itself drive the innovation that in turn gives rise to new industries and achieves competitive advantage.

To maintain the position as a leader in sci-tech innovations, the U.S. continues to invent advanced technologies, such as building the world’s fastest AI supercomputer. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) today formally unveiled the first phase of its next-generation supercomputer, called Perlmutter. The new system will greatly increase the high-performance computing (HPC) capability for a broad spectrum of unclassified scientific research within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.

Perlmutter features a heterogeneous architecture that will provide four times the computational power or scientific simulation, data analysis, and artificial intelligence applications. The Perlmutter system will play a key role in advancing scientific research in the U.S. and is front and centre in several critical technologies, including advanced computing, artificial intelligence, and data science.

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