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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. has the upper hand in pivotal emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, in part because American universities and companies boast world-class talent. But experts say its dominance could soon slip.

Why it matters: The country that reigns in AI, 5G or quantum cryptography will likely have a huge military and economic advantage over its adversaries for years to come and will get to shape the technologies as they are implemented the world over.

A new report from the Council on Foreign Relations identifies the areas in which China is rapidly closing the gap with the U.S. "Slowing down China is not enough," says Adam Segal, an expert on emerging technologies and national security at CFR. "The U.S. needs to do significantly more at home."

  • China is vastly outpacing the U.S. in planning for and investing in critical research, and it is producing more and more top minds in AI and quantum computing. By 2030, China will likely be the world's leading spender on research and development, per the report.
  • Compare that to the U.S., where the share of government money spent on research has dwindled from 1.1% of GDP to 0.7%. Restoring that to historical levels is crucial, as about a third of patented American inventions in the last decade have leaned on federally funded research, the report notes.

What to watch: The U.S. needs to pull in scientists from around the globe to compete, Segal says. "China is producing 3 times as many STEM graduates at the undergrad level."

  • But increasingly restrictive immigration rules may keep Chinese scientists — as well as scientists from other foreign countries — at home.

Go deeper: Facebook to buy a leading brain interface startup

Go deeper

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

Progressives pressure Schumer to end filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

A progressive coalition is pressuring Chuck Schumer on his home turf by running a digital billboard in Times Square urging the new majority leader to end the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Schumer is up for re-election in 2o22 and could face a challenger, and he's also spearheading his party's broader effort to hold onto its narrow congressional majorities.

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.