Emerging Technology

IBM Comments to U.S. Department of Commerce on Export Controls for Emerging Technologies

Share this post:

Today IBM submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Commerce on Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) concerning review of controls for certain emerging technologies.

The executive summary of these comments is below. The entire document is available for download here.

Executive Summary

For more than a year, IBM has publicly advocated for the modernization of U.S. export controls, with the goal of developing a narrow list of “emerging technologies,” control of which would support the country’s economic and national security interests.  We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the seven fundamental questions listed in the ANPRM and commend the Department of Commerce’s commitment to moving forward with this process in a thoughtful, deliberative manner.

Many of the technologies on the ANPRM list are, in fact, longstanding and widely used technologies with global availability.  It is therefore essential to differentiate and clarify the difference between “established” and “emerging” technology, and to focus controls on specific applications as opposed to entire categories of technology that may in fact be well established.

We believe any new controls should be narrowly focused, because broad application of new controls could significantly harm U.S. industries and put American businesses at a competitive disadvantage while failing to actually restrict access by parties of concern.  For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) generally is a poor candidate for control as an “emerging technology,” but specific applications of AI using certain data sets could prove to be an effective chokepoint.  On the other hand, Quantum Computing (QC) is still a nascent technology with its roots in fundamental research.  Even as specific offerings in a limited set of commercial and non-commercial applications come into focus, QC continues to require a large ecosystem to derive not only the correct technology to apply but also the relevant commercial opportunities to explore.  Any new controls in this space should adopt a “do no harm” principle that promotes innovation by focusing narrowly on specific uses of QC in certain non-commercial applications.

Recognizing the difficulty inherent in these determinations, we have proposed in these comments several threshold questions to help evaluators determine whether or not a technology warrants control.  These include:

  • Distinctly Novel: Is the technology truly new and different?
  • Innovation: Is the technology dynamic, growing, and constantly evolving?
  • Ease of Access: How widely available is the technology? Will controls actually prevent access, or can the technology be procured elsewhere?
  • Ability to be Contained: Are the means for evolving the technology known only to a select few?
  • Ability to Reverse Engineer: At the current rate of knowledge and understanding of the field, is it challenging to maintain differentiating, proprietary knowledge?

IBM looks forward to working closely with the Administration as it progresses beyond the ANPRM to a Proposed Rule and, ultimately, to a narrow list of “emerging technologies” essential to U.S. national security.  We are committed to contributing our considerable technical and human expertise as we work together toward a necessary, important and much-needed modernization of America’s export control framework.

 

More Emerging Technology stories

IBM Comments on US Section 301 investigation into Digital Services Taxes

Today, IBM submitted the following letter to the United States Trade Representative in response to a request for comments on Section 301 investigations into Digital Services Taxes:   July 9, 2020 The Honorable Robert Lighthizer United States Trade Representative 600 17th Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20006   SUBJECT: Request for Comments on the Initiation of […]

Continue reading

GDPR’s Birthday Wishlist: Greater Harmonization and Robust Data Transfer Mechanisms

Two years ago, on 25 May 2018, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force. On this anniversary, the COVID-19 pandemic has in an unprecedented way underlined the need to use data to safeguard people’s health, accelerate research, benefit governments, and to support the resilience of the economy. Most of the important steps […]

Continue reading

Towards a Clear and Reliable Regulatory Framework on AI in Europe

Few technologies attract the level of attention that artificial intelligence (AI) does from governments, business, academics, media and the public, especially at a relatively early stage in their adoption.

Continue reading