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Heinrich, Portman, Schatz Propose National Strategy For Artificial Intelligence; Call For $2.2 Billion Investment In Education, Research & Development

Senators introduce bipartisan legislation to coordinate and fund AI developments over the next 10 years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), unveiled a comprehensive national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy.

Heinrich and Portman, the co-founders of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced S. 1558, the bipartisan Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA), which would organize a coordinated national strategy for developing AI and provide a $2.2 billion federal investment over five years to build an AI-ready workforce, accelerating the responsible delivery of AI applications from government agencies, academia, and the private sector over the next 10 years. 

“Artificial intelligence – and the opportunities and challenges it will bring – are becoming seemingly inevitable. Now is the time to formulate AI workforces and policies to keep these innovations on a responsible path,” said Senator Heinrich. “The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act would ensure that the United States establishes a national strategy for AI research and development and would invest $2.2 billion in R&D. Whether it’s Silicon Valley, New Mexico or Ohio, or elsewhere across the United States, our high-tech companies, universities, and national laboratories are the foundation by which we lead and maintain an advantage in AI. But the gap is closing quickly, and the United States will only continue its leadership position if it acts with a sense of urgency and purpose. If we defer AI development to other nations, important ethical, safety, and privacy principles will be at risk, which not only harms the United States, but the international community as a whole. When a new AI advancement is made – the AI-IA will have already put into place policy, people, and potential for this new market to truly take transportation, health care, manufacturing, and national security to the next stage of opportunity.”

“AI is rapidly becoming an intrinsic part of our economy and society. Right now, China is engaging in a full court press to unseat the United States’ dominance in AI,” said Senator Portman. “By coordinating and synchronizing our country’s research and development efforts, this bill ensures not just that the United States remains an AI leader, but that it does so by developing AI technology that prioritizes American values.”

“In order to take full advantage of AI technology, we have to invest in it,” said Senator Schatz, the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. “Our bill will give researchers and innovators the resources to study and further develop AI technology so that we can use it in smart and effective ways.”

In March 2019, Senators Heinrich and Portman announced the formation of the bipartisan Senate Artificial Intelligence (AI) Caucus to address transformative technology with implications spanning a number of fields including transportation, health care, agriculture, manufacturing, and national security.

The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act would:

  • Establish a National AI Coordination Office (Director and staff to coordinate federal AI efforts), an AI Interagency Committee (senior leaders across federal departments), and an AI Advisory Committee (non-governmental experts) to develop a National Strategic Plan for AI research and development, and facilitate coordination across government agencies.
  • Require the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) to identify metrics which may be used to establish standards for evaluating AI algorithms and their effectiveness, as well as the quality of training data sets ($40 million each year).
  • Require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to formulate educational goals for addressing algorithm accountability, explainability, data bias, privacy as well as societal and ethical implications of AI. NSF will also fund research on both the technical and educational aspects of AI and its effect on our society through awarding to up to five new “Multidisciplinary Centers for Artificial Intelligence Research and Education.” At least one of these five centers will have K-12 education as its primary focus, one will be minority-serving institution, and all will include a lifelong education component. (+$500 million total; five Centers at $20 million per year for 2020-2024)
  • Require the Department of Energy (DOE) to create an AI research program, building state-of-the-art computing facilities that will be made available first and foremost to government and academic AI researchers, but will also be available to private sector users on a cost-recovery basis as practicable. The bill will establish up to five Artificial Intelligence Research Centers to include institutions of higher education and national laboratories. (+$1.5 billion; five AI Research Centers at $60 million each per year for 2020-2024)

To read the full bill, click HERE

The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act has already received statements of support from a number of business and technology industry leaders:

Sean Perryman, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Policy with the Internet Association“The internet industry supports the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AIIA) introduced by the Senate AI Caucus Co-Chairs, Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rob Portman (R-OH). The AIIA increases important investment in AI research, development, and education and requires investments into minority serving institutions. AIIA will foster additional AI development through a coordinated strategy that aims to increase data sharing between academia, the public, and private sector, as well as expand the education pipeline to prepare America’s workforce for the jobs of the future.”

Linda Moore, President and CEO of TechNet, “Research and development by the public and private sectors is critical to unleashing the full potential of artificial intelligence for our workforce and our economy. This legislation will accelerate this important work and propel U.S. leadership in the global AI race. Thank you to Senators Martin Heinrich and Rob Portman for their bipartisan leadership on this bill."

Joshua New, Senior Policy Analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF) Center for Data Innovation, “The future of U.S. competitiveness in AI will depend on how effectively policymakers support key inputs for innovation, particularly R&D. Thus far, efforts to support AI R&D have been lackluster. By providing clear, concrete steps for the federal government to take to accelerate and strengthen AI R&D, Senator Heinrich and Portman Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA), like its companion bill in the House, would secure the United States’ status as the global leader in R&D.”

Christian Troncoso, Policy Director for BSA | The Software Alliance, “BSA applauds Senators Heinrich and Portman for introducing the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act. From the microprocessor to the Internet, federal government investments in early-stage R&D have helped launch new industries and establish the US as the hub for global innovation. The AIIA will help the US retain its leadership in the development of AI by funding research, development, and educational initiatives that will serve as a foundation for continued innovation in every sector of the economy. Importantly, the bill will formalize structures to ensure that R&D spending is coordinated and targeted on projects that will create the greatest possible return on investment.”

Swami Sivasubramanian, Vice President of Amazon Machine Learning, “Greater investment in AI research and development is essential to ensuring the technology benefits all of society and advances US leadership in AI innovation. The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act is an encouraging step in realizing this vision. We applaud Senator Heinrich and Senator Portman for their important work on this front.”

Christopher A. Padilla, Vice President of IBM Government and Regulatory Affairs, “As IBM continues to push cognitive computing to the edge of possibility, we support legislation that brings government and industry together to accelerate research and development of this transformative technology. We applaud Senators Heinrich and Portman for their work to advance our nation’s leadership in AI, and their particular focus on engaging with minority-serving institutions to build greater trust in the technologies that will change our world."

Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft, “This legislation would promote the development and coordination of a national strategy on AI research & development, while providing resources for the consideration of societal and ethical implications like the impact on workforce, bias and accountability. It’s a thoughtful, targeted proposal and we applaud the leadership of Senators Heinrich and Portman.”
Dr. Stephen G. Wells, President of New Mexico Tech, “AI solutions are expected to play an important role in critical fields such as cyber defense, intelligent and autonomous unmanned systems and swarms, electronic warfare, data fusion, logistics and maintenance optimization, information processing and intelligence analysis, mission planning and control, war gaming and training. All of these AI solutions could radically accelerate the cycle of military operations and deeply influence military practices. New Mexico Tech is supportive of the federal government enhancing investments that seek to bolster research, development and applications of AI in a coordinated way across government agencies, academia and the private sector.”
Garnett S. Stokes, President of the University of New Mexico, “Artificial Intelligence is a burgeoning field that promises to revolutionize technology and society in important ways, I applaud the Senator’s efforts to ensure that at least one of the new centers for artificial intelligence research and education be based at a minority-serving institution. I am particularly enthusiastic about the attention paid in the bill to workforce development and the need to reach out to minorities and underrepresented groups to build a diverse workforce for the future.”
New Mexico State University issued the following statement in support of the legislation, "New Mexico State University (NMSU) is strongly supportive of the proposed Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA). NMSU has a long history of cutting-edge research and education in Artificial Intelligence, which has contributed to advances in both the foundations of Artificial Intelligence as well as applications of Artificial Intelligence methodologies and technologies to solve problems of profound societal relevance (e.g., smart energy, structural biology, rehabilitation and assistive technologies). The AI-IA will consolidate and expand the US leadership role in the field of Artificial Intelligence, providing needed coordination of efforts as well as critical investments. The proposed investments will address the crucial challenges faced by modern Artificial Intelligence – with particular emphasis on education of a diverse student population and the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence for the global good."
Carnegie Mellon University issued the following statement in support of the legislation, “AI has the potential to create new economic opportunities in communities across America and will help address significant challenges in health care, education, energy and the environment and transportation. To get there, we need an “all of nation” approach. The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act, or AIIA, bill proposed by Senators Heinrich and Portman, as well as the bill by Congressmen Lipinski and Reed in the House, would help to ensure sustained U.S. leadership in research and innovation. These thoughtful and comprehensive bipartisan measures would establish the interagency collaboration needed to ensure broad participation and impact across agencies and stakeholders, with specific focus on privacy, bias and ethics. Equally important, they would mobilize a public/private partnership to create the impactful education and workforce training strategies needed to ensure that advances in AI reach all Americans."
The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act builds off of U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski’s, (D-Ill.) H.R. 2202, the Growing Artificial Intelligence Through Research Act.
To read the full bill, click HERE.