Lawmakers mull US role in AI technology

Lawmakers mull US role in AI technology
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Lawmakers and experts voiced concerns Wednesday about America’s future as a leader in artificial intelligence technology.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Ocasio-Cortez hits Yang over scrapped Eid event: 'Utterly shameful' MORE (R-Texas) cautioned during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing that the U.S. could lose its spot as a leader in developing AI technology.

“Today, the United States is the preeminent leader in developing artificial intelligence. But that could soon change,” warned Cruz, the chair of the Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee.


“Ceding leadership in developing artificial intelligence to China, Russia and other foreign governments will not only place the United States at a technological disadvantage, but it could also have implications for national security,” he said in opening remarks.

Experts on a panel expressed similar sentiments.

“I do think it’s important that we grow our AI workforce quickly,” said Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

“We’re so short of experts here. Frankly, I look at some of the other major players, and China and India are pumping out major scientists that can do good work here,” Moore said.

He called the current hiring situation “unsustainable.”

Moore argued that not adequately addressing hiring pool concerns could eventually snowball into national security problems if the U.S. did not continue to lead AI development.


“This AI tech is available to bad guys too,” Moore said when asked by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) about immediate AI policy concerns. “It is possible to set up homemade rooms in a bad way. Repressive regimes can now face recognition tools. We need to stay ahead.”

“The biggest thing to watch for is the openness," said Greg Brockman, with research company OpenAI. "We can attract the world’s best talent by keeping things open.”

The subcommittee’s hearing comes just over a month after the White House released a report on the future of artificial intelligence, outlining 23 policy recommendations to help the U.S. stay at the forefront of AI technology.

Among those recommendations was monitoring the state of AI in other countries and teaching ethics as a part of the AI curricula in higher education.

AI technology has garnered increasing public attention — and stoked fears — amid rapid advancements in recent years.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) noted the importance of keeping up on AI regulation and policymaking to make sure those fears aren’t actualized and that the technology is utilized.

“The one constant is that public policy will operate at snail speed. If we’re not doing it now, we have no chance at making good policies moving forward. If we wait, it’s going to be too late to do that,” Peters said.