Executive Order to Limit Tech Investment, AI Competition, More ECF Funding

Limited foreign investment includes on technologies such as semiconductors and AI.

Executive Order to Limit Tech Investment, AI Competition, More ECF Funding
President Joe Biden walks with Vice President Kamala Harris across the West Executive Avenue at the White House Monday, March 29, 2021, following the President’s remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. More: (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson). Original public domain image from Flickr

August 10, 2023 – President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order to tighten the grip on U.S. foreign investments in key technologies deemed critical to national security.

The order authorizes the secretary of the Treasury to oversee business dealings in “a narrow set of technologies,” including semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence. Regulated transactions involve activities with “intangible benefits,” such as mergers and acquisitions, private equity, venture capital, greenfield investments, and joint ventures.

New regulations proposed by the Treasury would prohibit Americans from engaging in those transactions or require them to notify when performing certain transactions that involve foreign persons from “countries of concern,” including China, Macau, and Hong Kong.

Biden warned in a letter to Congress dated August 9 that these countries eliminate barriers between civilian and commercial sectors, military and defense industrial sectors to achieve “military dominance,” which threatens the national security of the United States.

In addition, the order also mandates the secretary of the Treasury, along with the secretary of Commerce and other relevant agencies to present the president with an assessment of the program and potential recommendations or modifications, one year following the effective date, to further enhance the program.

The measure reflects heightened U.S.-China technological competition amid escalating security concerns. Several government officials and lawmakers have stressed the need for American leadership in key industries, particularly semiconductors and artificial intelligence, to avert security risks.

White House launches AI competition with $20M in prize

The White House on Wednesday launched a two-year competition challenging artificial intelligence developers to detect and repair software vulnerabilities, offering prizes totaling almost $20 million.

According to the press release, several top AI companies, including Anthropic, Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI, will collaborate with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to offer expertise and technology for the challenge.

The competition, called AIxCC, will kick off with a qualifying event in spring 2024, where the top scoring teams will move on to the semifinal competition at DEF CON 2024, one of the world’s top cybersecurity conferences. The top five contestants will progress to the final phase of the contest, scheduled for DEF CON 2025, where the three highest-scoring teams will be announced.

To ensure broad participation and a level playing field, DARPA will also make available $7 million to small businesses who want to compete, read the notice.

“Today’s announcement is part of a broader commitment by the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure that the power of AI is harnessed to address the nation’s great challenges, and that AI is developed safely and responsibly to protect Americans from harm and discrimination,” read the document.

In July, the administration announced it had obtained voluntary agreements from seven leading AI companies to address the risks associated with the technology.

FCC announces $46.3M in Emergency Connectivity Fund money allocation

The Federal Communications Commission unveiled a new funding round of $46.3 million through the Emergency Connectivity Fund program, aimed at providing digital tools and services for students to stay connected while away from school.

The funding will benefit approximately 125,000 students, 250 schools, 13 libraries, and 2 consortia in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington, read the notice.

“For many students, the start of the school year brings renewed concerns about access to the digital tools that they need to succeed in school,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “That’s why we’re pleased to announce another round of funding to help close the Homework Gap just in time for students to head back to class.

Since its launch in 2021, around $6.86 billion in funding has been distributed out of the designated $7.17 billion. The agency said it has supported approximately 18 million students, 11,100 schools, 1050 libraries, and 120 consortia, including nearly 13 million connected devices and over 8 million broadband connections.

However, the program also has its share of hurdles as anchor institutions associations in April requested  the FCC to extend the deadlines to implement funding from the ECF, in part citing delays in getting and deploying equipment and services.

Popular Tags