Two bicameral, bipartisan bills intended to strengthen U.S.-based AI research initiatives were introduced this week. Both bills are focused on maintaining the United States’ global leadership and promote public and private sector collaboration.

Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., Anthony Gonzales, R-Ohio, and Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., introduced the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act, would establish a task force to develop a roadmap for a national AI research resource. If enacted, the bill would “convene a group of technical experts across academia, government, and industry to develop a detailed plan for how the U.S. can build, deploy, govern, and sustain a national research cloud.” Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced a companion bill, but are using a slightly different name. The Senate bill is dubbed the National Cloud Computing Task Force Act.

“We cannot take America’s AI leadership for granted. With China focused on toppling the United States’ leadership in AI, we need to redouble our efforts with a sustained commitment to the best and brightest by developing a national research cloud to ensure our technical researchers get the tools they need to succeed,” said Sen. Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus. “This legislation takes the first steps towards a national research cloud. By democratizing access to computing power we ensure that any American with computer science talent can pursue their good ideas.”

Sen. Heinrich doubled down on the importance of maintaining the United States’ global leadership and stressed involving the private sector in AI research.

“If we defer [AI’s] development to other nations, important ethical, safety, and privacy principles will be at risk … That is why it is critical that we bridge the gap between public and private developers and collaborate on efforts to develop a sustainable, national research cloud – bringing everyone into the fold,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to introduce this bicameral, bipartisan legislation as a first step to increasing access to the type of supercomputing capability once reserved only for government labs and universities. Providing these capabilities to researchers, developers, and entrepreneurs around the country will ensure that America stays at the cutting edge of AI technology.”

In the Senate, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduced the Advancing Artificial Intelligence Research Act of 2020. The bill would establish a national program to advance AI research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and authorize multiple research institutes to study the benefits and challenges of AI. The Senate bill has a similar piece of legislation in the House. The Growing Artificial Intelligence Through Research Act, introduced in April 2019, is co-sponsored by Reps. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

“Artificial intelligence, with near limitless applications, is becoming essential for the public and private sectors,” said Sen. Peters, a founding member of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus. “This legislation is vital to ensuring America remains the world leader in this rapidly developing applied technology, which is particularly important as countries like China pour resources into artificial intelligence research and applications.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.