Boosting AI: Senators propose $32B investment plan for US tech growth

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After months of meetings with industry experts and AI critics, four U.S. senators published what they say is a comprehensive roadmap for maintaining U.S. leadership in AI development.

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Boosting AI: Senators propose $32B investment plan for US tech growth

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A bipartisan group of four senators led by United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is recommending that Congress spend at least $32 billion over the next three years to develop artificial intelligence (AI) and establish safeguards around it.

The roadmap is another effort by the U.S. government to regulate and promote AI development. It comes six days after legislators in the U.S. unveiled a bipartisan bill to aid President Joe Biden’s administration in imposing export controls on top AI models created in the country.

After months of meetings with industry experts and AI critics, the bipartisan working group identified the importance of AI investments to keep the U.S. competitive with its rivals abroad and improve Americans’ quality of life — supporting technology that could help cure some cancers or chronic illnesses.

While the roadmap doesn’t constitute a concrete bill or policy proposal, it provides a glimpse into the scope and magnitude of what lawmakers and relevant parties envision for future AI legislation, setting the stage for more comprehensive and detailed policies to come.

The senators’ proposal also calls for enforcing “existing laws for AI,” including addressing any gaps or unintended harmful bias, prioritizing the development of standards for testing to understand potential AI harms, and developing use case-specific requirements for AI transparency and explainability.

The group also recommended new requirements for transparency as AI products are rolled out and that studies be conducted into the potential impact of AI on jobs and the U.S. workforce.

Related: OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist departs AI firm

The AI Working Group is not pioneering the effort to regulate the rapid progress of generative AI (genAI) and general AI development and adoption. In February, the National Institute of Standards and Technology formed the AI Safety Institute Consortium, which brought together over 200 organizations to establish safety guidelines for AI systems.

According to experts, the U.S. is lagging behind several other countries, including the European Union, which has taken a significant lead in regulating AI. In March, the EU established a comprehensive new law governing AI across its 27 member states, putting pressure on the U.S. to catch up.

The law created safeguards for general-purpose AI, limited law enforcement’s use of biometric identification systems, banned online social scoring and AI manipulation or exploiting user vulnerabilities, and gave consumers the right to launch complaints and get “meaningful explanations” from AI providers.

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