Public Policy

State Department to Enhance Focus on Critical and Emerging Technologies


In January, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the establishment of a Special Office for Critical and Emerging Technology that will focus on strengthening U.S. diplomacy around issues related to disruptive technologies.

A press statement accompanying the announcement explains the action is “part of the wider modernization agenda because the constellation of critical and emerging technologies reshaping the world is now an integral part of the conduct of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy.”

The statement notes that the Office of the Special Envoy “will provide a center of expertise and energy to develop and coordinate critical and emerging technology foreign policy, and to engage foreign partners on emerging technologies that will transform our societies, economies, and security — including biotechnology, advanced computing, artificial intelligence, and quantum information technologies.”

The new office is expected to work in close coordination with the various regional and functional bureaus and offices within the State Department, although its role viz-a-viz the State Department’s Office of the Science and Technology Advisor was not defined.

Neither the new Envoy nor the Science Advisor post have been filled, but Dr. Seth Center was named as Deputy Envoy to stand up the new office. Dr. Center holds a PH.D. in diplomatic history from the University of Virginia, is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and has previous experience working for the National Security Council and the U.S. Department of State, including participation as a senior advisor to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

For more information, see the State Department announcement at:

Also see Secretary Blinken’s 2021 remarks to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence outlining the State Department’s technology diplomacy priorities, including an emphasis on driving technical standards and norms for emerging technologies.



IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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