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A Bill To Advance Science Progress Has Become an Act for AI in War

The “CHIPS and Science Act” was passed by Congress in July, 2022 with an appropriation of $53 billion to spend on new American semiconductor design and manufacturing capacity, and was authorized additional spending of five times that over the rest of the decade.

17 months later, however, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Dec. 12 announced the first actual spending under the act—a $35 million “manufacturing incentive,” to an arms producer. It was the British arms producer BAE Systems, “which makes various [semiconductor] chips for applications such as fighter planes.” The rest of the $53 billion appropriated grant money remains in the pot after 17 months.

Reuters reported that Raimondo, while claiming that “next year we will get into some of the bigger [grants] with leading-edge fabs,” emphasized that the grants are “national security priority, and we need to move quickly”; she implied that the Commerce Department is looking for ways to bypass environmental reviews for “national security” reasons.

What was once the Chuck Schumer-Tod Young “Endless Frontier Act of 2019” for the development of regional, university-focused science centers for biotechnology, simulation, space and materials science, communications technologies, etc., became the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 for the military-industrial-university complex. It is focused entirely on beating China down in those semiconductor sectors with artificial intelligence (AI) applications for use by the military.

Last week at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Raimondo ranted, “We can’t let China get these chips…. We’re two years ahead of them. We can’t let them catch up!” But the United States, according to a Dec. 12 piece by Anton Shilov, makes just 12% of world semiconductor production, “down from 40% in 1990.”

Raimondo and the Biden Administration are obsessively focused on the AI chips for the military; that, and keeping them away from China, are the sole apparent objectives. Shilov’s article is headlined: “U.S. Government Doles Out Paltry $35 Million of the $52 Billion CHIPS Act, Warns of Possible Delays in Intel and TSMC Fab Buildouts.”