Policymakers are rushing to keep pace with the rapid development and deployment of emerging technology. This charge is especially evident in the field of artificial intelligence, where questions around transparency, standards and governance are raised in parallel with accelerating concerns over international technology competition.
Over the last seven days, members of Congress introduced seven bills that are focused on science and technology policy or artificial intelligence — five of them on June 4 alone — and other relevant proposals are in the works. To help keep track of this bevy of new legislation, here’s a brief recap of each of the seven new bills introduced in the last week:
- S. 3900, a bill to direct the Secretary of Defense to carry out a grant program to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and for other purposes.
Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the PROMOTES Act, which would authorize the Department of Defense to create and implement a program preparing students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps for training and education in STEM fields. Specifically, the bill:
- Authorizes grants for such programs at JROTC units;
- Encourages DOD coordination with the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, other federal, state and local entities and the private sector; and
- Requires the establishment of outcome-based metrics and other assessment tools to evaluate the efficacy of grant-funded activities.
Identical legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Anthony Brown (D-MD) and Michael Waltz (R-FL). The bill garnered formal endorsements from Microsoft, Intel, BSA | The Software Alliance, CSForAll, the College Board and others.
- S. 3901, a bill to establish a federal artificial intelligence scholarship-for-service program.
Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the AI Scholarship-for-Service Act. Based on a recent recommendation by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, the bill expands on the existing Federal Cyber Scholarship-for-Service program by including AI practitioners. It would provide AI practitioners, data engineers, data scientists and data analysts with higher education scholarships in exchange for a commitment to work for a federal, state, local or tribal government, or a state, local or tribal-affiliated non-profit deemed as critical infrastructure.
- S. 3891, a bill to require the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to advance the development of technical standards for artificial intelligence, to establish the National Program to Advance Artificial Intelligence Research, to promote research on artificial intelligence at the National Science Foundation, and for other purposes.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries and Weather, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the Advancing Artificial Intelligence Research Act of 2020. The bill would establish a program at NIST to promote transparent and consensus-based standards for AI, create at least six AI research institutes dedicated to long-term AI research and establish a dedicated AI research grantmaking program at NSF. The bill authorizes annual amounts of $250 million for standards efforts at NIST and $50 million per research institute for fiscal years 2021 through 2025.
- S. 3890 and H.R. 7096, to establish the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force, and for other purposes.
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), co-founders and co-chairs of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, introduced the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force Act. The bill would convene a task force of experts in academia, government and industry to develop a roadmap for developing a national cloud computing resource for artificial intelligence research. The resource would provide students and researchers across scientific disciplines with access to computing power, publicly-available government and non-government data sets and other education tools and user support. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. The Stanford Center for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and The Ohio State University have both endorsed the bill.
- S. 3882, a bill to establish the National Technology Industrial Base Quadrilateral Council.
Arising from an April 2019 Atlantic Council report, this bill by Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) would establish a National Technology Industrial Base Quadrilateral Council modeled after the “Five Eyes” alliance. As proposed, it would consist of high-level officials representing the four members of the National Technology Industrial Base — the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada — and would be responsible for coordinating policies on regulating foreign direct investment, technology transfer, research and development and supply chain security.
- H.R. 7139, to direct the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to commission a study on the impact of the activities of China on standards for emerging technologies.
Representatives David Schweikert (R-AZ) and House Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee Chairman Ami Bera (D-CA), introduced the Ensuring American Leadership Over International Standards Act. The bill directs NIST to commission a study through the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to examine Chinese government policies and standards development for emerging technologies and their impact on international standards setting organizations. Among other provisions, the bill requires:
- A review of past Chinese government practices with respect to international standards setting;
- An assessment of ways in which past practices may be used in the development of international standards for emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and quantum information science; and
- Recommendations for mitigating Chinese influence in international standards setting organizations for “advanced wireless technologies and other critical technologies.”