Sunday, May 19

Senators unveil bipartisan push to spend billions on AI research, warn China is ‘in a hurry’

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators joined in a call to boost American funding of artificial intelligence research Wednesday.

The group, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., argues the U.S. is at risk of being left behind on AI if government funding does not increase. Joining Schumer from the other side of the aisle were senators Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

“This is a time in which the dollars related to this particular investment will pay dividends to the taxpayers of this country long term,” Rounds said in a statement. “China now spends probably about 10 times more than we do on AI development. They are in a hurry.”

The group’s plans center on generative AI, which can create text, photos and videos in response to open-ended prompts. The technology has created widespread excitement and also concern because it could render vast number of jobs obsolete.

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The group is calling for the U.S. to spend at least $32 billion on non-defense-related AI research annually.

Schumer noted Congress is also planning to spend “a very large number” on defense-related AI issues, arguing it is critical to “outcompete China.”

The majority leader added that there does not need to be an overarching AI bill that includes every issue. Rather, individual committees can work on AI issues and present related legislation as they become ready, he said.

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“We’re not going to wait on legislation that addresses every aspect of AI in society,” he said.

Later on Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to take up debate on how AI could impact or threaten the U.S. election system.

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The news came as top U.S. and Chinese authorities met for their first AI talks in Geneva Tuesday.

The talks, which presidents Biden and Xi Jinping agreed to launch in 2023, are meant to open bilateral dialogue between the world’s two biggest economies — and increasingly, geopolitical rivals — on a fast-moving technology that already has consequences for trade, lifestyles, culture, politics, national security, defense and much more.

U.S. technology experts say the meeting — led on the American side by high-level White House and State Department officials — could offer a glimpse into Beijing’s thinking about AI amid a generally tight-lipped Chinese approach to the technology.

Reuters contributed to this report

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