America has been the undisputed global leader in science and technology over the past century. But this global order is in flux. China’s extensive investments and years of strategic planning—including strengthening its intellectual property regimes—has enabled it to catch up to, and in some areas surpass, our capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. Congress is mulling over legislative proposals to counter China’s economic and geopolitical ambitions for technological dominance and the President is getting ready to announce a national AI strategy. IP reform must be a part of this sea change to ready the United States for the AI era.
The newly emerging technologies are vastly different from technologies of the past. AI provides computers the ability to learn on their own and make decisions that have traditionally required human intelligence. And when combined with other emerging technologies, its power will be truly dramatic. Quantum computers, for example, which are based on the behavior of energy and materials on the atomic and subatomic levels, can be millions of times faster than current classical computers. Just imagine military equipment driven by artificial intelligence and operated by quantum computers. The country that gains the lead in these technologies will enjoy towering national security advantages, including in economic and military power.