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US News Roundup: 24-30 July


The latest research and policy news from the US

In depth: US development of quantum technologies, which are based on the physics of sub-atomic particles, is to be bolstered on several fronts following the announcement of a series of funding and policy initiatives.

Full story: US quantum R&D gets entangled policy and funding pushes


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Chinese nationals charged with hacking Covid-19 research
Two Chinese nationals have been indicted by a US jury for a ten-year computer hacking campaign, including recent attacks on companies developing Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests. The US Department of Justice said that Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, both residents of China, had in some instances been working on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. A day later a Senate committee endorsed a bill that would tighten government control over foreign researchers working in the United States and is geared towards preventing intellectual property theft, particularly by China.

Trump drug price orders draw industry ire

US pharmaceutical and biotechnology bodies have decried actions by president Donald Trump to control drug prices. Trump signed two executive orders to lower the costs of prescription drugs and link prices to those in foreign countries, saying that the United States is “funding the enormous cost of drug R&D for the entire planet”. Stephen Ubl, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the policy was “a reckless distraction that impedes our ability to respond to the current pandemic”, while Michelle McMurry-Heath, president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, said adopting foreign price controls would “cripple” smaller companies.

Congress moves on AI oversight
Legislation pushing forward oversight of artificial intelligence is making its way through both chambers of Congress. An amendment to a defence spending bill, passed by the House on 21 July, would establish a National Artificial Intelligence Initiative to “accelerate and coordinate federal investments” in AI. Chair of the House science committee Eddie Bernice Johnson said the initiative would ensure investments are “governed by principles of ethics, safety, security, fairness and transparency.” A separate Senate bill would establish a national advisory committee to oversee the economic and legal impacts of AI technologies.