A bipartisan Senate bill aims to counter the influence of authoritarian nations such as China on artificial intelligence, 5G and other emerging technologies by creating an international partnership led by a new State Department office.
The Democracy Technology Partnership Act, introduced Thursday, describes a China that is using investment and coercion to instill emerging technologies with authoritarian principles and a U.S. that is failing to lead when it comes to technology governance. To mitigate this gap, the bill requires the secretary of state to build an International Technology Partnership Office focused on setting global technology standards.
The bill also authorizes the allocation of $5 billion for a technology trust fund to support research projects and other technology investments. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the lead sponsor for the bill, said the U.S. needs a strategy grounded in the strength of U.S. partnerships to prevent China from surpassing the U.S. in technology.
“This bipartisan legislation will help foster partnerships among the U.S. and like-minded democratic countries to better protect and compete against China in critical emerging technologies while helping set global rules, standards, and protocols for the market,” Warner said in a press release announcing the legislation.
Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Marco Rubio R-Fla., Ben Sasse R-Neb., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. co-sponsored the bill. Four prominent former government officials—Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser, Ambassador Marc Grossman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs, and Adm. William McRaven, former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command—all endorsed the bill in the press release.
Albright called the partnership a “powerful diplomatic tool to counter authoritarian influence.”
“It would also promote new avenues of cooperation between democratic nations to secure a better future for us all,” she said.
The key technologies listed in the bill include AI and machine learning, 5G and other advanced wireless telecommunications technologies, semiconductors, biotechnology, quantum computing, surveillance technologies like facial recognition, and fiber optic cables. The bill also stipulates the partnership should work to provide alternatives to countries at risk of getting technologies from authoritarian regimes.