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A report that will be released Wednesday from the bipartisan Aspen Cybersecurity Group suggests that the United States is losing its grip as a global innovation leader and needs government action to resecure its edge.

Why it matters: Innovation isn't just an economic issue (though it is certainly that). It has huge national security and geopolitical implications, too.

  • "Will America lead the technology that secures Americans?" asked Lisa Monaco, co-chair of the Aspen group, in an interview with Axios. "Will American values be reflected in the technologies of the future?"

The Aspen Cybersecurity Group is co-chaired by Monaco, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. Its members include 2 former heads of the NSA, high ranking executives from Apple, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson and Duke Energy, and several prominent academics.

The big picture: The U.S. faces substantial competition in innovation from China. Even countries like South Korea and Israel outspend the United States in government funding for research.

  • The Aspen report identifies 5 factors behind America's tech leadership: the decimation of infrastructure in competing nations from World War II, federal spending on foundational science, importing innovators through immigration, Cold War competition and spending on education.
  • The U.S. can't (and shouldn't) hope to replicate its "world war victor" advantage. But, per the report, lawmakers can and should leverage the other 4 categories — even though so much recent legislation has moved in the opposite direction.

The proposal: The Aspen report advocates...

  • Federal funding of half the total U.S. R&D budget — that was the norm until the 1980s when privately funded research took over. It has since declined further. The government currently funds around 22.5% of basic research.
  • Increasing the tolerance for risk in research, including funding curiosity-based science with no clear application.
  • Increased education spending, including training in tech ethics and strategically retraining people who started in other career paths. That would expand the potential workforce while introducing other fields' modes of thought into the tech world.
  • Bolstering the tech workforce at all levels through immigration.
  • Easing barriers to trade while improving protections on intellectual property theft.
  • Focusing on moonshot-like goals to increase urgency and provide deadlines.

Go deeper

Updated 9 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Ransomware attack forces shutdown of major U.S. fuel pipeline

A police officer stands guard inside the gate to the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm in Pelham, Alabama, in 2016. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A major U.S. fuel pipeline running from Texas to New York has been taken offline by its operator because of a ransomware attack, Colonial Pipeline said Saturday.

Why it matters: It's a significant breach of critical infrastructure and comes on the heels of multiple other major cyberattacks on both U.S. companies and the federal government.

Updated 10 mins ago - World

Vehicle bombing near Afghan school in Kabul kills at least 30

People gather at the scene of the bombing. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A vehicle bombing outside of a high school in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday killed at least 30 people and injured more than 50, including multiple female high school students, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: It is at least the second bombing to strike students in Afghanistan in a little over a week. Violence in Afghanistan has escalated since President Biden announced that the U.S. would begin withdrawing troops in May and would complete a full withdrawal by Sept. 11, 2021.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The wealthy exodus from superstar cities

Pandemic-induced remote work is chipping away at a recent trend of Americans staying put — but only for the well-off.

Why it matters: Telework has been lauded as a geographic equalizer, allowing talented people from all over the country to go for jobs in superstar coastal metros. But the benefits have largely been limited to wealthier workers — so far.