AI experts are pushing the U.S. to ease immigration policies, arguing that the country is hobbling itself in a critical geopolitical race in which American dominance is slipping.
The big picture: Two of the Trump administration’s major policy goals seem at cross purposes. Clamping down on immigrants and visitors could hamstring AI development in the U.S., which the White House says is a top priority.
Why it matters: The U.S. has long been the clear leader in AI research, but in recent years China and Europe have made vast strides toward overtaking it. Falling behind could have major economic and military repercussions.
The majority of AI talent in the U.S. is foreign-born, according to an analysis of submissions to NeurIPS, the top AI conference. “American companies have benefited tremendously from their own ability to attract international talent,” says Joy Dantong Ma, the Paulson Institute researcher behind that study.
Now, tightening quotas and immigration rules can keep AI experts from coming to the U.S. to work, study or even present at conferences.
If current trends continue, “there will be a drain of talent returning to India and China,” says Dick Burke, CEO of Envoy Global, a company that advises U.S. businesses on employment visas.
“Tightening immigration policies is inconsistent with wanting to lead in AI,” says Remco Zwetsloot, a research fellow at the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
What’s happening: It’s already becoming harder for businesses and academia to invite the best researchers across borders.
In 2015, the U.S. government denied 6% of employment-based visa claims; this year, it is on track to deny nearly a third, according to an analysis from the nonprofit National Foundation for American Policy.
Read the full article at Axios.