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SCSP AI Expo for National Competitiveness

Remarks as prepared.

I know Secretary Raimondo was just on the stage and I am happy to follow her comments as the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, an agency within the Department of Commerce. 

NIST is the only federal laboratory with a mission entirely focused on driving U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness. NIST cultivates trust in technologies so that we can realize their full technological, commercial and societal benefits without harm to people or the planet.

New technologies can be powerful enablers of economic security and better quality of life. But if we don’t have trust in a new technology, we won’t use it. If we don’t use it, we have lost an opportunity. 

If you are old enough, you may recall when the internet was just a fun new way to connect with friends. 

Thirty years on, it is also an indispensable part of our economic security. In 2023, U.S. e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion. We trust the internet with our transactions because NIST cryptography standards ensure that credit card numbers are not stolen in transit to retailers. We can shop or work with an internet connection because NIST protocols ensure that home routers connect securely, and that the internet does not crash under heavy traffic. NIST helped the internet become a trusted and necessary part of our infrastructure, like power or water. 

NIST cultivates trust through measurement science. Since its founding in 1901, NIST has developed the foundational science to help technical communities perform reliable and replicable measurements. In an increasingly complex world, measurements are a common language for the communication of technical information or specifications. This supports interoperability. For example, a car manufacturer might be able to quickly identify several suppliers able to meet the technical specifications for a part, providing business resiliency.

Comparison of measurements shows deviation in systems, processes and products. This makes measurements important for quality control and objective indicators of a need for standardization. Again, quality control and standardization build trust. Manufacturers trust suppliers, consumers trust products, international trading partners trust that they are getting what they pay for. 

NIST measurement science is important to every industry and economic sector.

And NIST is industry’s partner in this work every step of the way. By working together with our stakeholders and asking, “What are the difficult measurement problems that are holding your industry back?” NIST can help entire sectors overcome barriers to domestic and international competitiveness. 

NIST’s measurement and standards solutions form the basis for the nation’s innovation to flourish — and not just for a month, or a year, but to set up U.S. businesses for decades of technological leadership to ensure our economic and national security.

With that core mission in mind, let me talk about a few of our priority areas.

Artificial Intelligence

We are all here today to talk about AI. 

AI is the defining technology of the 21st century. The United States has developed the most advanced AI models and chips in the world. This is a massive advantage to our national security, our economic security, and our competitiveness. But to reap all the benefits of AI, America and its partners need to build the standards that will ensure safe deployment and adoption.

Executive Order

NIST’s experience in building trust in new technologies in general, and our experience with AI in particular, is why we were chosen to help fulfill President Biden’s Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence issued in October.

We are developing the measurements and standards — the toolkit we all need to advance safe, secure, and trustworthy AI so that its full commercial and societal benefits can be realized without harm to people or the planet. 

We are building the nation’s trust in artificial intelligence (AI) systems with NIST’s AI Risk Management Framework and follow-on products, and our testing and evaluation work as part of the President’s Executive Order 14110. We are on track to complete the tasks in the Executive Order on schedule.

Last week — just six months out from the President’s signing of the EO — NIST released for public comment four draft publications intended to help improve the safety, security and trustworthiness of AI systems. 

Two draft guidance documents are designed to help manage the risks of generative AI and serve as companion resources to NIST’s AI Risk Management Framework and Secure Software Development Framework. The third draft NIST publication offers approaches for promoting transparency in digital content, which AI can alter, while the fourth proposes a plan for developing global AI standards. These are initial drafts, and we need your feedback to inform final versions that are due out this summer. 

Alongside these documents, last week we also launched a challenge series that will support development of methods to distinguish between content produced by humans and content produced by AI.

The NIST lead for the AI Risk Management Framework talked already this morning on some of the work that NIST will do to continue on the path of promoting trust in AI technologies.


Many of you also know that NIST was tasked to stand up the U.S. AI Safety Institute to build the science necessary for safe and secure development and deployment of AI systems. The AI Safety Institute will conduct safety evaluations of models and systems, and develop much-needed guidelines, including on content authentication and the detection of synthetic content.

We are working in close collaboration through the AI Safety Institute Consortium with more than 200 of the leading AI companies, startups, researchers and members of civil society who are on the front lines of creating and using the most advanced AI systems and hardware. Together we are building the foundational understanding of how AI can and will transform our society. 

You can hear all about this directly from our new AI Safety Institute Director, Elizabeth Kelly, from this stage tomorrow afternoon.

Other AI Efforts & Manufacturing USA

In March we announced our intent to hold an open competition for a new Manufacturing USA institute focused on the use of AI to improve resilience of U.S. manufacturing.  We announced an investment for this new institute of up to $70 million across five years. 

Manufacturing USA exists to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing. The program brings a whole-of-government approach to innovation, one that springboards U.S.-based inventions to the forefront of advanced manufacturing technologies, created and utilized by a skilled American workforce.

We believe that the adoption of AI in manufacturing has the potential to increase productivity and efficiency, increase worker safety, allow for predictive maintenance to reduce or eliminate factory floor downtime, improve quality control and reduce waste and defects. 

We see a future where AI will be used to realize huge efficiencies in R&D and manufacturing, and improve the daily lives of all Americans, from forecasting hurricanes, to increasing community resilience to disasters, to using machine learning for saving more lives with better cancer screening and diagnosis. And we see a future where we can achieve these goals while minimizing potential harms from misuse of AI.  NIST is here to support that future vision working with you, our partners, every step of the way.

CHIPS for America

Now I’d like to turn to CHIPS, because the nation’s AI leadership is nothing without the power of advanced semiconductors.

NIST is implementing the $50 billion CHIPS for America program to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to America and keep it here by developing a robust, integrated research and development ecosystem.  

We have made a number of exciting announcements over the past several months, including announcing preliminary memorandum-of-terms agreements with Intel, GlobalFoundries, Microchip Technology, BAE Systems, TSMC, Samsung and Micron to provide direct funding for more than $29 billion worth of projects in 10 states.

CHIPS has launched four research and development programs to focus on core research issues impacting the advancement of the industry today. These programs span from the measurement science foundations of semiconductor manufacturing, to digital twins, to advanced packaging and pushing forward the design and manufacture of advanced CHIPS for applications that include AI. 

CHIPS R&D recently announced a $5 billion commitment to the National Semiconductor Technology Center, a $300 million funding opportunity for new materials and substrates for advanced packaging, and just yesterday announced a funding opportunity for an investment of up to $285 million in a Manufacturing USA institute dedicated to digital twins for the semiconductor industry.

You can expect the steady cadence of announcements of funding and funding opportunities to continue throughout this year.

Looking Ahead

For over 120 years, NIST has answered national and international needs just like we are doing today in AI, CHIPS and more. Our work ensures the security, safety and reliability of all the technologies on which commerce and our well-being depend. At the end of the day, it’s about trust.

Our success, and our ability to be agile and address all the challenges put before us, depends on a robust core of scientific and engineering research. We also must collaborate with our peers in industry, academia, civil society and government to achieve the best outcomes. Our work in 125 years has enabled us to build trust with you to do our work well. We do not take that trust for granted. So I hope you will join us. 

Created May 10, 2024