Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development , RSA Conference

Boosting US Tech Leadership: Antony Blinken's Agenda at RSAC

Secretary of State Antony Blinken Debuts New Policies to Propel US Tech Advancement
Boosting US Tech Leadership: Antony Blinken's Agenda at RSAC
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Image: RSA Conference)

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said technology is irremovably intertwined with statecraft during an appearance Monday at RSA Conference 2024.

Appearing at the cybersecurity gathering the same day the Department of State published a strategy for cyberspace and digital policy, Blinken said technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing will play a central role in international diplomacy.

"Security, stability and prosperity: They are no longer solely analog matters," Blinken said. "The choices that we make today, that you make today, will be decisive."

During a 26-minute keynote address Monday, Blinken said the U.S. is working with partners to set global standards and create resilient supply chains for critical technologies.

The Biden administration has plans to spend $3.5 trillion over the next years to enhance America's technological competitiveness while driving international collaborations to set standards that ensure safe and ethical use of emerging technology. Blinken said the new strategy aims to guide digital practices that respect democracy and human rights.

"Working together, we can seize this extraordinary moment to shape a future that makes life a little bit safer, a little bit more secure and a little bit more prosperous," Blinken said.

Securing Supply Chains, Opposing Digital Sovereignty

One pillar of the strategy is securing diversifying technology supply chains, particularly for critical minerals and semiconductors. The Biden administration supports legislative efforts to secure supply chains, including initiatives that promote domestic production and reduce vulnerabilities from global supply disruptions. The United States is also working to ensure all elements of the supply chain are protected against cyberthreats, Blinken said. These threats, the secretary added, increasingly target the industrial and infrastructure sectors.

The Biden administration opposes digital sovereignty, instead advocating for global cooperation in technological advancements. Blinken said pursuing initiatives such as data localization conflicts with the free flow of information, creating a "splinternet" where the global internet is divided into segments that operate under different rules and standards.

Firms face higher costs and operational complexity when forced to comply with diverse and sometimes conflicting national regulations, which Blinken said can hinder technological advancement and economic growth. At the same time, Blinken said, digital sovereignty increases risk by preventing the sharing of critical security information that can help protect against cyberthreats globally.

The Role of the International Community

Blinken said the Biden administration is working through international bodies to develop common standards and practices that respect the sovereignty of nations while promoting a unified and open digital space. By focusing on security, privacy and economic policies that empower rather than isolate, Blinken said, governments can mitigate the risk associated with digital sovereignty.

"Operating from a position of strength positions us to set standards and advance norms around the world," Blinken said.

As for emerging technologies, Blinken wants to see the formation of global frameworks that balance innovation with security and ethical considerations. The frameworks should ensure that technologies such as artificial intelligence aren't used for surveillance that violates privacy rights or for other purposes that could lead to societal harm, according to Blinken.

Blinken wants the U.S. to play a leadership role in setting international standards that ensure emerging technologies are used in a way that aligns with democratic values and human rights. Governance models must keep pace with technological advancement, which means existing laws and regulations should be adapted to better address the realities of digital and AI-driven economies, according to Blinken.

Public-private partnerships are key for the effective governance of technology since they aim to leverage the innovation chops of the private sector while ensuring public oversight and accountability. Finally, the Biden administration will educate policymakers and the public about the implications of new technology and back initiatives that boost understanding of how technologies affects societal and individual rights.

"AI can synthesize massive amounts of knowledge to improve the quality of everything from markets and education to our cities," Blinken said. "The United States is working to build global momentum around harnessing AI for good."

About the Author

Michael Novinson

Michael Novinson

Managing Editor, Business, ISMG

Novinson is responsible for covering the vendor and technology landscape. Prior to joining ISMG, he spent four and a half years covering all the major cybersecurity vendors at CRN, with a focus on their programs and offerings for IT service providers. He was recognized for his breaking news coverage of the August 2019 coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in Texas as well as for his continued reporting around the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 and early 2021.

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