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DOE Launches New Office to Coordinate Critical and Emerging Technology

January 04, 2024
By: SSTI Staff

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the Office of Critical and Emerging Technology launch. A DOE press release explains that the office has been created “to ensure U.S. investments in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, quantum computing, and semiconductors leverage the department’s wide range of assets and expertise to accelerate progress in these critical sectors.”

Critical and emerging technologies, such as clean energy, national defense, and pandemic preparedness, have broad applications throughout DOE. According to the press release, “(m)ajor advances in critical and emerging technologies hold extraordinary potential for the economy and national security but also pose significant risks, and DOE’s new office will focus the department’s efforts ensuring that its capabilities are helping to solve critical science, energy, and security challenges.”

Helena Fu, who was senior advisor to the undersecretary for science and innovation after serving as director for technology and national security at the National Security Council, was named director of the new office. Fu will also serve as DOE’s chief artificial intelligence officer, whose responsibility—laid out in President Biden's executive order on AI released in October—will be to coordinate the department’s use of AI, manage risks from its use, and promote innovation.

The Office of Critical and Emerging Technology will report to the undersecretary for science and innovation. It will focus collective efforts across the department, including its 17 National Laboratories and numerous university research and development programs. “The office will serve as a single point of contact on critical and emerging technologies at the department to help ensure that the federal government, in partnership with the private sector and academia, continues to be at the forefront of research, development, and deployment of key innovations impacting U.S. competitiveness and security,” the press release explained.