Technological achievement and innovation has been a hallmark of the era in which we live. As an example, thinking back on my time in Congress, I can remember a time when we could not carry powerful computers in our pockets. Today, our capabilities in cyber and energy technologies are evolving at a rapid pace. Also, NASA has recently landed another rover on Mars and we are even having conversations about outer space tourism and going back to the moon in the next ten years. Just as the past decade’s technological advancements changed our world, the innovations of the next ten years will affect every aspect of our personal and professional lives.
These innovations therefore present a powerful opportunity for our society and our lawmakers, and it is one that we cannot ignore. As our best and brightest charge into uncharted innovative territories, they end up operating in areas where rules and regulations have yet to be developed. For years, the United States has been a world leader in research and development. Through this, we have been able to assert our values of freedom and democracy in the areas in which new technologies operate. The first sets of rules to govern outer space and the internet were predicated on democratic values. Nowadays, our adversaries are active in emerging technologies, and the risk is that the next big technological break will not be free or provide protections for our human rights. As Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I work hard to protect our values abroad, but time and time again I see autocrats and dictators using technological control to oppress their citizens. Autocratic regimes and other bad actors manipulate internet blackouts to cut off communications for their protesters, and they use technology to surveil and spy on their citizens as well as spread disinformation and lies.
Therefore, now more than ever, it is important for the United States to invest in our research and development in technology so that the new breakthroughs exist within a realm that honors and protects the values of the United States and its allies. It is a question of our national security, our ability to lead internationally, and the protection of our democracy and freedom around the world.
I am a proud cosponsor of several technology bills in the current (117th) Congress:
H.R.869, RISE Act of 2021 would provide supplemental funding to extend the duration of a grant to a research institution, national laboratory, or individual that was awarded prior to the enactment of this bill, or to expand the purposes of such a grant as specified, issue awards to research the effects of the current pandemic and potential future pandemics, and
provide flexibility on awards to account for facility closures or other limitations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
H.R.849, Scientific Integrity Act, will establish certain scientific integrity policies for Federal agencies that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research, and for other purposes.