The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), an independent advisory group of the Nation’s leading scientists and engineers, released a report to the President today on semiconductor innovation, competitiveness, and security. Titled simply, “Ensuring Long-Term U.S. Leadership in Semiconductors,” the report looks at the challenges facing the semiconductor community and outlines recommendations for possible actions for the Federal Government to take in order to ensure US leadership in the field.
One of the main concerns brought up by the report is that the Chinese government has begun directing over a hundred billion dollars in a series of industrial policies in order to reshape the semiconductor market in its favor. With that in mind, the report’s two main findings, as pointed out in the executive summary, are noteworthy:
Our core finding is this: the United States will only succeed in mitigating the dangers posed by Chinese industrial policy if it innovates faster. Policy can, in principle, slow the diffusion of technology, but it cannot stop the spread. And, as U.S. innovators face technological headwinds, other countries’ quest to catch up will only become easier. The only way to retain leadership is to outpace the competition.
Second, we find that a competitive domestic industry is critical to innovation and security. We therefore recommend policies aimed at developing and attracting talent, funding basic research and development that is critical to innovation, reforming corporate tax laws, and reforming permitting practices.
In light of the changing of administrations that will happen in two weeks, one can hope that the new President and Congress will take this advice seriously and begin acting on it.