United States Representative Ro Khanna met with TiE Silicon Valley members to discuss the Endless Frontier Bill, which he feels is what America needs to put it technologically ahead of other countries.
The Endless Frontier Act, also known as the US Innovation and Competition Act, aims to invest over $100 billion in science and technological research and development. The US Senate passed the legislation on June 8 with a 68-34 vote in favor. It will now be discussed in the House.
Khanna (Democrat, California) during the Fireside chat with TiE SV president AGK Karunakaran and charter member Yogi Chugh held July 6, shared the bill, its importance, and why it’s needed.
When Karunakaran asked about the bill, Khanna described it to be one that would “mark the largest increase in science and technology investments since the 1960s.”
The funds will be distributed into various industries across the nation, including — but not limited to — electronic manufacturing, semiconductors, AI technology, quantum computing, and synthetic biology.
Khanna, who was among those who worked on the bill with its sponsor, US Senator Chuck Schumer, believes that entrepreneurship, along with government support, will lead to more scientific breakthroughs that may put the nation technologically ahead of other countries.
For example, he said, the funds would ensure that manufacturing of products would be done within the country, no longer “dependent on critical chips from Taiwan, or from Korea and other parts of the world.”
To Khanna, leading in technology is what drives nations to the top.
“Just putting ICBMs [inter-continental ballistic missiles] in circling China is not going to win the 21st century,” Khanna said.
“Leading in AI, leading in clean technology, [in] quantum computing; that’s what’s going to win the 21st century.”
Karunakaran comments that collegiate education is the bridge between students and the workforce, explaining that many students currently need practical training, along with the academics, to be competitive in the workforce. He asks Khanna whether the bill will change the way current programs train students for employment.
In response, Khanna states that the Frontier Bill will target education, focusing on teaching and preparing students for employment during the digital age.
“A lot of times you hear that people take these courses [from schools and universities], and they end up frustrated because they’re not able to be employable,” Khanna said. “They don’t know some of the basic commercial technology or applications.”
According to Khanna, there is a large emphasis on the theoretical aspect of science and technology in the status quo.
Asked by indica News how much of the funds will be dedicated to AI research and manufacturing, Khanna said that subjects and fields often mesh together. Rather than the theoretical, the bill targets critical innovations, he said, those that result in the manufacture, AI and production of new technology altogether, making research and discoveries more applicable to the real world.
“We have to pay attention to the commercialization and practical applications as well, especially given the US tax dollars are paying for it,” Khanna said.
“The American taxpayer deserves some accounting of the value, [we] can’t just have scientists writing in scientific journals for other scientists seeking their own reputations. That’s good, but there has to be some focus on what society gains from this.”
He hoped that such advancement would occur nationwide and not be limited to the technological hotspots in the nation — such as the Bay Area.
He said he believed that the Endless Frontier bill allows the nation to take a new step into investing across different regions, generating economic growth and creating technological sites across the nation.
“We have to change as a society, as a country. We want to have people participate in the economic wealth generation of the future,” Khanna said. “This bill does that by saying that not all the money can go just MIT and Stanford. It has to create technology hubs across the country, in creating those opportunities for wealth generation.”