Senate AI Committee Proposes $32B Annual Funding for AI

Lawmakers led by Chuck Schumer want increased spending on chips, a data privacy framework and increased national security protections for AI

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

May 20, 2024

3 Min Read
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers called on the U.S. government to invest “at least” $32 billion annually to support non-defense AI innovations.

The investment demand came from the Senate AI Working Group, which published its policy road map this week to provide suggestions to drive the country’s AI efforts.

The road map suggests AI spending should increase. The 31-page document said the Senate Appropriations Committee should work with other committees to analyze spending gaps.

The working group wants to fund cross-government AI research and development efforts that would work on projects spanning education, health care and science.

The lawmakers have also called for an all-of-government “AI-ready data” initiative covering efforts in responsible AI and applied sciences, including biotechnology, robotics and advanced computing.

The road map’s suggestions are based on findings compiled from conversations with high-profile AI leaders. A host of private AI forums with Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Bill Gates shared their thoughts on potential AI regulation and government support.

“After talking to advocates, critics, academics, labor groups, civil rights leaders, stakeholders, developers and more, our working group was able to identify key areas of policy that have bipartisan consensus,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “No technology offers more promise to our modern world than AI. But AI also presents a host of new policy challenges. Harnessing the potential of AI demands an all-hands-on-deck approach and that’s exactly what our bipartisan AI working group has been leading.”

Related:Silicon Valley AI Elite Back Regulation But Disagree on Details

Other areas where the lawmakers want to receive funding include the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to fuel its AI testing and evaluation efforts, grants to support AI readiness and cybersecurity for local election boards and AI “Grand Challenge” programs similar to those held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The bipartisan group’s road map also calls for further investment in the semiconductor space, including increased support through the CHIPS and Science Act.

Billions of dollars in tax breaks have already been awarded to Samsung, Micron, Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, but the lawmakers want more.

Policy Priorities

Away from spending, the bipartisan lawmakers want to beef up existing laws to address potential gaps where AI could be exploited.

The group also wants to prioritize national security for emerging technologies, calling for potential risks around AI to be identified and addressed.

Related:Sen. Schumer’s 'Ambitious' New Approach to AI Regulation

The road map calls for increased assessments of the potential for AI technologies being used to generate chemical, biological and nuclear threats, including assisting in the creation of chemical and biological materials and pathogens.

Misinformation was a key challenge the lawmakers wanted addressed, with a focus on deepfakes related to election content and nonconsensual intimate images.

“The AI Working Group encourages AI deployers and content providers to implement robust protections in advance of the upcoming election to mitigate AI-generated content that is objectively false, while still protecting First Amendment rights,” the road map reads.

The AI Working Group also wants legislators to introduce stronger federal data privacy laws to protect personal information.

“The legislation should address issues related to data minimization, data security, consumer data rights, consent and disclosure and data brokers,” according to the road map.

The lawmakers found some attendees from its discussion forums said that a national

standard for data privacy protections would provide “legal certainty for AI developers and protection for consumers.”

“This road map to the future of AI sets the stage as we seek to harness its power to bring greater prosperity to the American people while also mitigating potential long-term risks,” said Senator Mike Rounds. “I look forward to seeing how my colleagues use their policy expertise in each committee to address these issues through regular order. We have a real opportunity to shape its future, and we need to embrace this challenge with open arms.”

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About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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