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Thank you for inviting me to make some keynote remarks for what is a very important conference and welcome to all our colleagues from South Korea to this event. As I said It is really a pleasure to be here, although virtually, but still I’m glad I can be a part of this event.

It is a particular joy to be speaking with a group at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. As you just heard, I was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Belfer Center, had an amazing time there and I was able to see [yesterday] the ways in which it changed and advanced – so many fond memories – so I know firsthand what a remarkable institution it is, and I know that you’re having an excellent program during these couple days.

And of course I want to give a special thanks to John Park, Director of the Korea Project, who kindly asked me to deliver the keynote address today.

My topic, “Navigating the Increasing Control of Critical Technologies,” is certainly timely. This administration has put a high priority on addressing the national security risks posed by critical and emerging technologies.

The United States has a robust toolkit to protect sensitive technologies from exploitation by malign actors. These tools include visa vetting, investment screening, data security, among many others.

While all these tools have a role to play in protecting our critical technologies, today I would like to focus on export controls – which in recent years, have really come to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.

Perhaps most notably, the United States has aggressively leveraged export controls to manage and mitigate national security concerns regarding the People’s Republic of China.

Among the most vexing of these security concerns is the PRC’s Military-Civil Fusion, or MCF, strategy. MCF aims to ensure that technology, talent, intellectual property, and financial resources flow freely between the PRC’s national defense and economic systems, blurring the line between civil and military end-uses and end-users. Through MCF, the PRC has demonstrated the lengths it is willing to go to acquire and exploit the world’s most cutting-edge technologies, including through theft, to achieve military dominance.

There is perhaps no technology with more profound implications for the future of international security as advanced semiconductors. Advanced semiconductors will fuel the next generation of military capabilities. This technology is being leveraged to create autonomous military systems, vastly improving the speed and accuracy of military decision making, planning, and logistics. Advanced semiconductors also enable critical WMD applications, such as modeling of nuclear explosions and missile simulations.

Equally concerning, AI systems that rely upon advanced semiconductors are being exploited by malign actors to monitor and surveil citizens – thereby undermining basic human rights.

This is why the United States believes it is essential to prevent strategic competitors – including the PRC – from acquiring advanced semiconductor technologies that can be diverted for military end-uses and to commit human rights abuses.

This past October, the United States took a significant step towards advancing this strategic objective by enacting a carefully calibrated set of export controls on advanced computing and semiconductor manufacturing items. The “October 7 Rule” is designed to restrict the PRC’s ability to both purchase and manufacture certain high-end chips which could be used for military applications. These rules are intended to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, while also sending a clear message that U.S. technological leadership is about values, as well as innovation.

We are committed to maintaining the technological edge of the United States and our allies and partners, while preventing the PRC from leveraging sensitive technologies, especially advanced semiconductors, to advance their military capabilities and commit human rights abuses.

But in this era of strategic tech competition, it is not enough for the United States to just slow down or stymie the PRC’s acquisition of advanced semiconductors. We must also have proactive policies that ensure the United States, as well as our allies and partners, can “run faster” in the geopolitical race to retain technological superiority over the PRC. In short, given the profound strategic importance of advanced semiconductors, we want to maintain as large of a lead as possible over the PRC in this technology.

The stakes of this technology competition are high, which is why the United States is taking major steps to ensure that we win this contest.

Among the most notable of these steps was the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The CHIPS Act provides $52 billion to Commerce for domestic semiconductor production and R&D – which will be a major boon to innovation and development of advanced semiconductors in the United States.

The Act also creates the CHIPS for America International Technology Security and Innovation, or ITSI Fund, providing $100 million a year for five years for the State Department to invest in international projects. Pursuing these international projects are important, because no one country — even the United States — can produce everything it needs by itself. It is vital for us to work closely with likeminded countries — particularly our partners in Asia, where the vast majority of advanced semiconductor manufacturing is concentrated.

The ITSI Fund enables the United States to collaborate with our allies and partners to secure supply chains and develop technologies of the future that promote economic growth, national security, and democratic values.

In addition to promoting the production of domestic semiconductor manufacturing, the United States is collaborating closely with likeminded countries to protect sensitive technologies, including advanced semiconductors, and close gaps the PRC exploits to access advanced semiconductor technology. On a bilateral and multilateral basis, the United States works with allies and partners to improve export controls and coordinate actions we can take together to address the profound technology transfer threats posed by the PRC.

Finally, we recognize that even as we compete with the PRC, the United States needs to put in place guardrails around strategic competition to preserve strategic stability. In particular, AI development is advancing at an increasing rate among strategic competitors. While I wouldn’t characterize this as an AI race, we are concerned about the potential implications for strategic stability. States that rush to harness AI in the military domain without a careful, principled approach could deploy systems that are unreliable – whether the systems are poorly designed, inadequately tested, or used by untrained operators.

In considering the characteristics of AI, we need to look beyond traditional arms control approaches. Unlike conventional or nuclear arms, AI is a general-purpose technology; as such, it is difficult to find how we could verify any kind of formal arrangement regarding its capabilities. However, arms control takes many forms, including norms and confidence-building measures. This is the kind of flexible approach we need to meet the unique challenges posed by military applications of AI.

In February, I unveiled a Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of AI and Autonomy at the Responsible AI in the Military Domain Summit hosted by the Netherlands and Korea. This launched a process to articulate norms of behavior that reflect our commitment to responsibly harnessing the benefits of AI for military purposes, while seeking to avoid the potential pitfalls. Many countries have welcomed this initiative, and we are eagerly engaging with a wide range of partners to build a consensus around these norms. Doing so would ensure that, as states begin to develop and deploy military applications, we can reduce risk and maintain stability.

I would like to conclude by noting that emerging technologies do not just pose challenges for our security, but also create opportunities. We should look for and embrace opportunities to use AI in ways that facilitate cooperation and increase stability among our allies and partners. Because ultimately, emerging technologies, when used responsibly, can create a more peaceful and prosperous world.

I hope the rest of the Korean Security Summit is full of fruitful and productive discussions. And I hope to have the opportunity to visit you in person soon. Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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