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AI a Focus as U.S. Preps Export Controls

U.S. outlines 14 broad areas in effort aimed mainly at China

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 29, 2018 – 

Uncle Sam wants to restrict a few good technologies – and it needs engineers to help identify them.

As part of legislation passed this summer, the U.S. Commerce Department put out a call for input by Dec. 19 on which of 14 broad emerging technologies should face export controls. The call quickly got attention from industry veterans and groups concerned that controls could hurt U.S. companies and worsen a growing tech trade war with China.

The call issued on Nov. 14 listed aspects of biotech, AI, quantum computing, semiconductors, robotics, drones, and advanced materials as possible candidates. It gave special attention to AI, listing 10 specific areas ranging from computer vision and natural-language processing to AI chipsets. In semiconductors, it called out even broader areas including microprocessor technology, SoCs, stacked memory on chip, and memory-centric logic.

The effort aims to determine which emerging technologies could be strategic to national security and how to identify and control them without "negatively impacting U.S. leadership in the science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing sectors." It did not define the range of the controls except to say that, "at a minimum, it [would] require a license for [their] export ... to countries subject to a U.S. embargo, including those subject to an arms embargo."

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