NSCAI Report is a Call for US Leadership in Artificial Intelligence — for Supply Chain Security and Beyond

March 3, 2021
Andrea Little Limbago

By Dr. Andrea Little Limbago, Interos VP of Research & Analysis

“We must reevaluate the meaning of supply chain resilience and security.” This is one of the many recommendations detailed in the 750+ page report released by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence on Monday. Mandated within the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, this independent commission was tasked with assessing U.S. readiness in artificial intelligence (AI), while specifically noting the requirements for U.S. leadership in advancing the development of AI for national security and societal benefits.

The report rings the alarm bells regarding the state of U.S. readiness in AI, while also stressing the need for powerful U.S. leadership in such a critical area. AI-enabled solutions will be the drivers of geopolitics and global markets for decades to come. Given this critical juncture in geopolitical and technological transformations, supply chain resilience plays a central role in the report’s AI roadmap toward advancing U.S. national and economic security.

“AI will not stay in the domain of superpowers or the realm of science fiction.”

For those who still view AI as something in the distant future, the report should be a wake -up call that the future is now. AI-enabled solutions continue to inspire and offer great potential for positive impact, but also already offer the foundation for widespread surveillance, repression, and misuse. It should not be viewed as science fiction but rather must be prioritized now and put to its most beneficial uses for national security and economic prosperity in democratic society.

Unfortunately, the report finds the U.S. is lagging behind and must act now to achieve AI readiness by 2025.

The report highlights the need to address the talent gap, institute organizational reforms at the Pentagon, and promote interoperability with allies and partners as foundational to preparing for this new world order. Modernizing the acquisition process and ensuring readiness to respond to domestic crises both are noted as critical to keep the economy functioning smoothly while advancing national security interest.  The need for these changes is urgent, as the pace of AI-driven changes continues to accelerate.

“The AI competition is also a values competition.”

Last June, Interos detailed the global transformations underway and the diverging paths toward techno-dystopia and techno-utopia. The report reviews this ideological battle between those who would use AI for advancing authoritarianism against those who would harness it for fostering and enhancing democracy. The AI report released this week highlights the need for U.S. leadership in shaping global AI norms, standards, and policies as part of this values competition. At its core, AI reflects the core values of a society, and we have already seen how it can fuel extremism, repression, and societal fractures.

Aware of these global transformations, the report notes the need for the U.S. to work with allies, partners, and the private sector to leverage the potential of AI to support democratic values as opposed to undermining them. At the same time, the U.S. must encourage innovation and collaboration to unlock the full, societal benefits of AI-enabled solutions – from curing diseases to addressing climate change to protecting civil liberties. As Interos discussed following the SolarWinds revelations, a major paradigm shift is required to best progress toward these opportunities while providing a counterweight to the global diffusion of techno-dictatorships. To do this, a networked approach is necessary.


“The U.S.-China competition is complicated by the complex web of supply chains.”

In concordance with last week’s executive order on securing our supply chains, the report repeatedly mentions the criticality of securing the supply chains fundamental to AI technology, especially microelectronics. “The federal investment and incentives needed to revitalize domestic microchip fabrication—perhaps $35 billion— should be an easy decision when the alternative is relying on another country to produce the engines that power the machines that will shape the future.”

The report returns frequently to the themes of reducing dependence on China (especially in the areas of hardware), building readiness and advancing innovation, and the need for a comprehensive federal approach to supply chain and data security. Decoupling entirely from the complex web of supply chains is extremely expensive, impractical, and also undesirable. Instead, the report advocates for targeted disentanglement as one element of reducing dependency on China, a path which requires the formalized implementation of trusted networks for it to succeed.

As part of this roadmap, the new AI report specifies the need for allies, partners, and the private sector in building trusted networks and specifically trusted supply chain networks. Importantly, reducing dependence must not be accompanied by economic nationalism; it requires collaboration across like-minded governments and the private sector. This collaboration must manifest in both the policy realm as well as through joint research and development and industrial policies that prioritize access to technologies, minerals, and medical supplies that are critical to societal well-being and national security.

“Looking to an AI-enabled Future.”

The report places AI as the engine of invention; those who best innovate and harness the power of AI will also shape the values and security of the post-pandemic world order. There is no time to spare in shaping this international technology order to favor democratic values and prosperity over repression and surveillance.

Technology will be the core driver of global markets and geopolitics. The report finds the U.S. lagging behind and encourages significant steps now to build readiness and competitiveness for this new world order. From building a digital corps to incentivizing U.S. technology competitiveness to restructuring global alliances and supply chains, the time for action is now. The U.S. – including both the private and public sectors – can either take leadership now in shaping this AI-enabled future or be shaped by it. At Interos, the operational resilience company, our Cloud-based platform leverages AI and machine learning to instantly illuminate the extended supply chains of government and private-sector organizations as well as to continuously monitor the manifold global risk factors impacting the nodes along those chains. 

To learn more about how you can better protect your supply chains, click here. 

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