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Policy Blog: Emerging Technologies Need Strong Standards

Policy Blog: Emerging Technologies Need Strong Standards

A new national standards strategy will complement ASME initiatives that are already underway.
Recently, I represented ASME at an event at the White House announcing the release of the Biden Administration’s first-ever National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies. As a respected voice for engineering and recognized for setting engineering standards worldwide, ASME was invited along with other industry leaders, government officials, and technical experts to discuss a path forward in harnessing emerging technologies’ potential and accelerating private sector efforts.

I must say that I was encouraged by the Administration’s commitment to facilitating the development of standards and enabling technical material for critical emerging technologies (CET).

The event provided the Administration a platform to discuss the strategy, which focuses on renewing the United States’ rules-based approach to standards development while providing support for international standards for CETs. This will help accelerate standards efforts led by the private sector to facilitate global markets, contribute to interoperability, and promote U.S. competitiveness and innovation.

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The Administration’s approach is significant, and ASME is well-positioned to contribute to developing new standards for emerging technologies. With our extensive network of technical experts, engineers, and industry professionals, ASME facilitates collaboration and knowledge exchange to address the unique challenges posed by these technologies.

The White House strategy prioritizing CET standards development rests on four key objectives: Investment, participation, a growing workforce, and an attention to inclusivity.

These objectives build upon each other, beginning with investment in prestandardized research to promote innovation and cutting-edge science to drive U.S. leadership in international standards development.

This investment will be supported by government engagement with a broad range of private sector, academic, and other key stakeholders, including foreign partners, to address gaps and bolster U.S. participation in CET standards development activities. It is then necessary to ensure that our standards workforce keeps pace with the constant changes in standards development. The White House strategy focuses on educating and training industry as well as small- and medium-sized companies to more effectively contribute to technical standards development.

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Finally, inclusivity in standards development is essential to ensure a technically sound and effective system. The White House strategy takes this into account by working with our global partners to ensure that international standards are established based on technical merit through fair processes that will promote broad participation from countries around the world.

As a participant in this summit, I was encouraged by the commitment and understanding exhibited by the Administration to standards development in emerging technologies.

In an era marked by the rapid advancement of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and advanced materials, the development and adoption of standards play a crucial role. Standards provide a common language, ensuring interoperability, safety, and quality while driving innovation and market growth.

The White House strategy complements initiatives underway at ASME to create enabling technical products for crucial emerging technologies. This material will provide guidance, best practices, code cases, and design considerations, enabling engineers and innovators to navigate the complexities of emerging technologies with confidence and efficiency.

Our collaboration efforts are also validated as we continue to forge partnerships with government agencies, industry leaders, academic institutions, and other standardization bodies to foster a holistic and inclusive approach to standards development for emerging technologies. Collaborative efforts will help ensure that standards are comprehensive, future-proof, and reflective of the needs and aspirations of all stakeholders.

As a leading voice in the mechanical engineering community for the past 145 years, ASME is committed to playing a pivotal role in developing standards and enabling technical material for these technologies. I am encouraged by the focus in these discussions and look forward to working with the Administration to advance the principles put forward during this summit. By embracing these efforts, we can collectively unlock the full potential of emerging technologies and create a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

Michael Johnson is chief strategy officer at ASME.

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