U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “Industries of the Future,” immediately following an executive session at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. The hearing will examine how the United States can maintain its global economic edge in artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science, biotechnology, and developing the next generation of wireless networks and infrastructure. Witnesses will discuss research and development investments, regulatory changes, and workforce training needed to ensure continued economic growth and job creation in America.
- The Honorable Walter Copan, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce; Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology
- The Honorable France Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation
- The Honorable Michael Kratsios, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Office of Science and Technology Policy
- The Honorable Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
- The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
*Witness list subject to change
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Immediately following 10:00 a.m. executive session
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
This hearing will take place in the Hart Senate Office Building 216. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman Roger Wicker
The focus of this hearing is on the federal government’s role in promoting the advancement of emerging technologies that will revolutionize the global economy such as driverless cars, real-time language translation, and personalized medicine. Artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, and the next generation of wireless communications technology all promise to fuel American prosperity, improve quality of life, promote national security, and create jobs.
Innovations in AI are changing the way we access information, diagnose and treat illnesses, grow our food, power our homes, travel, and manufacture and deliver new products. American leadership in AI is critical to maintaining our economic and national security. Creating global standards to ensure AI systems are reliable, safe, fair, and accurate presents an ongoing challenge that our witnesses should discuss.
Advances in new production methods enables the United States to retain and create jobs. Last year this committee reported S. 1427, the Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Act of 2019, which became law.
I hope our witnesses – at least some of them – address the implementation of this law and other ongoing and expected administration efforts to promote advanced manufacturing.
The prospects for quantum computing are exciting. Advancements in quantum science have significant implications for the US economy and national defense, including biotechnology, next-generation military applications, and cyber security systems.
The committee would also benefit from an update on the implementation of the National Quantum Initiative Act, and to hear what more needs to be done on this issue.
Establishing a strong, reliable, and secure communications network to support these Industries of the Future is essential to realizing the economic and social promise of next-generation technologies. 5G – the fifth generation of wireless communications technology – is expected to usher in a new era of connectivity that will support significantly faster broadband speeds and higher data capacities. 5G will be fundamental to advancing developments in AI, quantum computing, and other groundbreaking innovations. I expect our witnesses from the FCC will want to address those and other issues regarding the role of 5G networks in facilitating these applications.
The NSF turns 70 years old this year – and I am not far behind. Investments in basic and applied research, infrastructure, and education have made the United States the global leader in science and technology. Those investments have driven economic growth and competitiveness in the United States for decades.
This committee also is dedicated to promoting American leadership in emerging science and technology. This week, along with Senators Baldwin, Gardner, and Peters, I introduced legislation directing the Administration to develop a plan to double the baseline investment in federal government Industries of the Future programs by 2022, and to increase civilian spending on Industries of the Future to $10 billion by 2025.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on what we can do to ensure the United States remains a world leader in science and technology and how that will drive future advances for our citizens and the economy.
Ranking Member Maria Cantwell
CANTWELL: Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this important hearing. I want to begin by recognizing Dr. Cordova, who after six years will soon be stepping down as the head of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Cordova, thank you for your service and your leadership in science. Under your tenure, NSF has increased transparency, improved communications so that the public can better understand our investments in basic research, and that is so critical to our economy, public health, and security. So, thank you.
Today’s hearing is about the industries of the future. And certainly in my state, I feel like that’s happening every single day. Having seen the advancements in our state on very important issues, all of which the Chairman just mentioned—everything from AI to quantum to 5G to advanced manufacturing and many other issues, particularly in the energy area—I couldn’t speak more highly of the need for us to continue our investment. The United States has traditionally funded research and development in cutting-edge technologies, which results in U.S. research companies leading the way in these particular areas. However, other nations, particularly China, while they’re investing billions of dollars in these areas, we must step up the challenge and focus on some of the issues that we face.
The Chairman mentioned 5G, for example. For me, the most important issue for 5G right now would be uniting the global community around the fact that no technology platform should become the standard platform if it allows for a government back door. We have to communicate that technology of the future must also protect us from the threats of cybersecurity and from invasion. And so the United States has a very loud voice here that should be listened to. If the United States does not commit to robust investments in technology, we will fall behind, and we all know, as I just mentioned, the grave consequences from that on a security level. And at the same time, we need to balance the R&D portfolio in order to fuel the innovation and discovery of next game-changing technologies.
That is why it’s so important, I believe, in making sure that AI and the important issue of combatting deep fake photos and videos, is such an issue. The University of Washington, in partnership with Washington State, is studying how technology will impact elections and society, and how these threats magnify our challenges in importance to federal agencies like our intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and our ability to detect these deep fakes. I say that this is important because I feel that this era is already upon us, and we need to make sure that we are going to continue our leadership. So I’m proud that the University of Washington, along with a coalition of people who are supporting stabilizing the free media in the United States of America, are taking on this issue in an unprecedented way.
A study done by the University of Oxford found that AI continues to advance, approximately 47% of the jobs in the United States could be at risk of automation—that doesn’t mean that’s all related to AI—but a 2016 study by the White House council suggests that there would be some increases in AI-related jobs, there’s still going to be impacts. So, as my colleague Senator Young and I have introduced in the past legislation to try and analyze what the impacts of that are, and better prepare the U.S. Government for a response in policy. So I thank Senator Young for his leadership, with me on that issue.
So Mr. Chairman I look forward to hearing and discussing the many important issues from the witnesses today, and thank you for your leadership in getting this hearing underway.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Walter CopanDirector, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology; National Institute of Standards and TechnologyDepartment of Commerce
The Honorable France CórdovaDirectorNational Science Foundation
The Honorable Michael KratsiosChief Technology Officer of the United StatesOffice of Science and Technology Policy
The Honorable Michael O’RiellyCommissionerFederal Communications Commission
The Honorable Jessica RosenworcelCommissionerFederal Communications Commission