Innovation is the key to economic growth, improved standards of living, opportunities for all Americans and even America’s strength on the world stage. In fact, since the end of World War II, technological innovation can be directly attributed for over half of economic growth in America and accounts for the steep rise in per capita income. But today, jumpstarting innovation isn’t just an economic accelerator, it can also be a catalyst for expanding opportunity, and elevating even more trustworthy technologies. Cranking up our innovation engine can enable us to unlock new ways to infuse trust throughout our innovation ecosystem – enabling critical new investments in game-changing cybersecurity techniques, elevating trustworthy AI systems, advancing more trusted communication networks and fundamentally expanding our ability to solve problems in more dynamic and trustworthy ways. Perhaps this is why at time when Washington is almost defined by hyper-partisanship, one of the few areas where there is real, meaningful bipartisan agreement is on the pending Bipartisan Innovation Act.
Both the House and Senate have already taken bold steps to boost our innovative potential and ensure the U.S. will be home to the good-paying jobs from the industries of the future. Currently, a conference committee of Senators and House members are working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate version of the bill, which has been known as the Bipartisan Innovation Act, America COMPETES Act (H.R.4521) , the United States Innovation and Competition Act (S.1260), to send a final bill to President Biden’s desk for signature. President Biden recently called on Congress to move as quickly as possible to take advantage of this rare moment of bipartisanship and deliver a bill for his signature, as the President said, “Our economic strength is on the line. And national security as well is on the line.”
Investment in expanding American innovation is critical for creating new and good paying jobs, diversifying our STEM pipeline, driving America’s competitive advantages, and for building a more trusted future.
Benefits towards a Trusted Future from this critical investment in innovation include:
CREATING GOOD, HIGH-PAYING JOBS AND IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR AMERICANS.
We need U.S. technology leadership so that America maintains its current position as a global leader and so that America becomes home to the good paying jobs and industries of the future. Congress should promote U.S. technology leadership, ensuring that the U.S. maintains its lead as home to the world’s most innovative companies, and help advance American technology leadership. Section 2102 of the bill would dramatically expand research and development funding through a newly created technology and innovation directorate at the National Science Foundation. Researchers and innovators must trust that they will be able to obtain funding to explore ambitious, out-of-the-box ideas that could revolutionize our world. So many of the technologies that define modern life have their roots in government-funded research work, including the Internet, the web browser, search engines, relational databases, LCD screens, GPS, language recognition, virtual assistants, and artificial intelligence. Together these technologies helped create the Internet economy which now contributes more than $2.45 trillion to US GDP, and supports more than 17 million U.S. Jobs. Federal investments in advancing emerging technologies are a proven way to expand jobs. For example, every dollar the federal government invested to map the human genome has returned $140 to our economy – creating 310,000 jobs and launching an entire genomic revolution and industry. Now we need to invest in the next frontiers.
Passage of the Bipartisan Innovation Bill will boost our capacity to innovate and once again make sure that the U.S. is able to lead the world on innovation, and continue to reap its many rewards. It will enable American innovators to push the frontiers of emerging technologies to create entire new industries including next generation wireless communications, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, autonomy, semiconductors, robotics, batteries, and advanced manufacturing. And as we do, they can help us discover new ways to drive trust into the way we develop technologies from the start – by investing in ambitious new efforts including quantum resistant encryption, technology supply chain resiliency, game-changing cybersecurity technologies, and new forms of trustworthy AI.
By helping drive trust into technology from the start, the new advances can help put us on the cusp of a new era of progress with the potential to impact each of our lives in positive and profound ways – especially when it is built inclusively and upon a foundation of trust. Experts predict that emerging technologies have the potential to:
- Dramatically improve health outcomes for millions;
- Radically boost energy efficiency to help meet climate goals;
- Enable smarter transportation solutions that save time, save lives, and save energy;
- Create thousands of good paying advanced manufacturing jobs; and
- Help close economic divides for a more equitable, prosperous, and healthy future.
INCREASING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION TO ALLOW ALL AMERICANS TO BENEFIT FROM INNOVATION.
While technology can be a powerful opportunity equalizer, for too long barriers have meant that some of the people who can benefit most are too often the people who have been left behind. One of the critical components of the Bipartisan Innovation Bill is its focus on diversifying where innovation happens to make it possible for more communities to participate in and benefit from technology and innovation. But today 90 percent of growth in high-tech jobs happened in just 5 metropolitan areas and one-third of the nation’s innovation jobs reside in just 16 counties. The Bipartisan Innovation Bill will help expand who benefits by funding new regional innovation hubs – through section 2401 – to ensure that the benefits of innovation are not concentrated in only a handful of communities.
In addition, researchers have found that innovation in the United States could quadruple if women, people of color, and economically disadvantaged children became inventors at the same rate as men from high-income families. That is why Section 2106 of the legislation is focused on helping to diversify the STEM talent pipeline, fund new scholarships and fellowships, increase technology literacy to give more students the opportunity to pursue careers in technology. These steps can help give more diverse populations access to good high paying jobs, and give more diverse voices a seat at the table as we shape our technology future. It will help expand who technology is designed by, and for, so that more communities can trust that they will benefit from this future. As Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17), a co-sponsor of the House legislation, outlined earlier this year, “Technology literacy is a prerequisite for economic empowerment in the 21st century. It’s a prerequisite for participation as a citizen. I want people to have agency over their participation, and so much of the public sphere.”
For investments in innovation to be truly effective, we need the ability to trust that our future is more equitable and inclusive. For too long barriers have meant that some of the people who can benefit most are too often the people who have been left behind. The Internet has become essential for all, but only trustworthy for some. Pew Foundation found that those who are more hesitant to use the Internet or digital technologies, are more likely to be older, low-income, women, and minorities and that one of the chief inhibitors was a lack of trust. That’s why we need to build trust into technologies from the start, make sure technologies and the advantages of innovation are more inclusive by design, and ensure that new products and services are designed by, and for, a more diverse group of people.
STRENGTHENING AMERICA ON THE WORLD STAGE.
For decades, America has led the world in developing the new technologies that allowed us to be more prosperous at home, and more successful on the world stage. When we out-innovate, we are often able to out-compete. But in recent years, America’s technological leadership has been jeopardized by underinvestment at home, as other countries make massive investments in an attempt to get ahead of us by becoming home to the technologies that will drive the future. Americans need the ability to trust that our technological leadership tomorrow will be just as advantageous as today.
Bipartisan investment in emerging technologies, research, and innovation can help us stay on the cutting edge to better compete with China – and help ensure that the technologies of tomorrow are trustworthy, built upon democratic values, and support global industry based standards. Global power in the 21st century will be defined by innovative technological breakthroughs. As Senator Todd Young (R-IN) a co-sponsor of the Senate legislation noted in a recent op-ed, “The CCP is investing heavily — $1.4 trillion through 2025 — on cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, 5G, and advanced manufacturing. America remains a leader in some of these fields but is losing ground fast… The CCP has wisely bet that technological superiority equals global supremacy… If we are to lead the world, we must lead the world in 21st century technologies.” Similarly the final report for the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence found, “To retain its innovation leadership and position in the world, the United States needs a stronger government-led technology strategy that integrates promotion and protection policies and links investments in AI to a larger constellation of related emerging technologies.” Now, we need our policymakers to trust in our innovative potential, to trust in the talent and tenacity of American workers, and to trust that our best days are still ahead of us.