Michael Richards Michael Richards
Director, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC)

Published

March 18, 2022

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Artificial intelligence is increasingly prominent in our everyday lives, from smart home devices to navigation and music streaming. In fact, 70% of businesses are expected to use AI by 2030. However, the United States is already facing stiff competition for global AI leadership. 

China has stated its ambitions to become an "AI superpower" by 2030 and is investing billions of dollars in research and AI startups. The European Union is also set on taking the lead in writing the rules of the road for regulating AI. Without the right policies, which provide the necessary regulatory climate, the U.S. is at risk of losing its competitive advantages. At the same time, harnessing the full potential of this technology also means establishing the necessary guardrails to enable AI to continue to flourish fairly.

We need durable, bipartisan AI policy solutions to ensure the United States continues to lead in innovation while fostering fairness. To assist in this endeavor, the U.S. Chamber Commission on Artificial Intelligence Competitiveness, Inclusion, and Innovation (AI Commission) convened experts on AI to testify at its first field hearing in Austin, Texas. Speakers ranged from civil society, government, academia, and industry practitioners.  

"The technological change we're going to see in the next 47 years is going to make the last 47 years since the advent of personal computer look insignificant. We have to make sure we're ready," said former U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-Texas), who provided opening remarks. "Big things only get done if you do it together, and that's not just Republicans and Democrats, it's industry, it's government, and [the Chamber's AI Commission] has an opportunity to drive some of these issues."

At the hearing, testimonies explored global competition and fairness in AI within the lens of issues like healthcare, finance, privacy, defense, energy, immigration, education, employment, and more. Witnesses agreed on the importance of maintaining U.S. global leadership in artificial intelligence, especially in the face of increasing competition from China, while also emphasizing the need to examine fairness, bias, and ethics in practicing AI. 

"While there is no current regulation around AI in the U.S., regulators have clearly sent a message that it's on the horizon," said Iwao Fusillo, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at General Motors, in his testimony. "We believe companies like GM are already crafting policies and procedures across their organizations to create a compliance-by-design program that promotes AI innovation, but also ensures the transparency and the explainability of our systems… the responsible use of AI."

In his testimony, Charlie Burgoyne, Founder and CEO of Valkyrie, highlighted the need to find a sensible middle ground between innovation and privacy. "In China, the idea of the right to privacy is not respected or thought of nearly the same way as it is in the United States. And for that reason, gargantuan amounts of very finite, very invasive data is collected on behalf of features that are developed for products." On the other hand, "Western Europe has ostensibly decided that innovation is not worth the risk to privacy. They've developed a number of different types of legislative acts including things like GDPR which on the table sounded really good…What it actually did was completely spur all—it totally destroyed the innovative groups of people who were pushing for different ways of utilizing machine learning and data in novel approaches."

Burgoyne continued to articulate a major challenge at the heart of advancing AI, "We don't want to spur the innovation domestically at the expense of privacy, but we also need to be able to remain competitive against adversaries who don't operate under the same character calculus that we do, the principle of calculus that we do."

In closing out the hearing, Claire Vishik, Fellow and GMT CTO at Intel Corporation, underlined the importance of hardware in discussions of artificial intelligence. "The important thing is to see the big picture. It's great to focus on algorithms, to focus on data and the nature of data, but there will be no algorithms, no data if you don't have the semiconducting structure that is capable of supporting them."

Read the transcript of the hearing in Austin here.

To continue exploring critical issues around AI, the U.S. Chamber AI Commission will host further field hearings in the U.S. and abroad to hear from experts on a range of topics. The next hearing will be held in Cleveland at the Cleveland Clinic, examining the workforce and healthcare as it relates to artificial intelligence. Other upcoming hearings will take place in Silicon Valley and London.

Learn more about the AI Commission here.

About the authors

Michael Richards

Michael Richards

Director, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC)