The US government is considering controls on exports of emerging technologies

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) published an Advance notice of proposed rulemaking, asking for public comments on criteria for identifying emerging technologies that are essential to the US national security, and could be included on the list of technologies subject to export controls. Currently, the Bureau of Industry and Security within the DoC controls the export of dual-use and less sensitive military items, to ‘protect sensitive US technology’. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information, and additive manufacturing have not yet been evaluated for their security impact. But this is about to change, as the DoC is inviting the public to help define and identify such emerging technologies for which ‘effective controls can be implemented that avoid negatively impacting US leadership in the science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing sectors’. In the field of AI, the targeted technologies include, among others, neural networks and deep learning, reinforcement learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. In reaction to the notice, voices in the USA argued that AI export controls could be counterproductive to US goals: ‘If the US government bans the export of AI technology, other countries will likely enact reciprocal policies. […] It will mean US companies are locked out of certain markets, allowing firms in other countries to compete unchallenged.’ argued Daniel Castro, vice president of the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.​