Hurd on the Hill: Harnessing American innovation for the future

By U.S. Representative Will Hurd – TX23

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the way we work, learn, live and defend the nation, but our leadership in this technology remains uncertain. With reports by top officials warning that “the United States is in danger of losing its global leadership in AI and its innovation edge,” we should protect our national security and invest in the research and development of AI across our innovation ecosystem. As a former undercover CIA officer, I learned that understanding the motivations of our adversaries are critical to our ability to contain and counteract them. We know Russia and China are investing in AI— We must do more. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is one of our biggest threats in the AI space, and they are willing to take tremendous steps—including conducting illegal actions on American soil, such as stealing intellectual property, falsifying grant applications and hiding Chinese citizen’s links to the People’s Liberation Army. A 2019 report by the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission also found the CCP is positioning Chinese firms to become the next AI leaders through “government intervention, market structure and construction of AI enabling infrastructure.” America can stop this, but we must act now by implementing a national AI Strategy. 

 That’s why I’m proud to have partnered with my colleague, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) to introduce a resolution that calls for the creation of this strategy. The pillars we believe it must be built on—workforce, national security, research and development and ethics—are the result of years of working together on successful, bi-partisan technology policies. I firmly believe our framework would allow America to take advantage of technology in a responsible and effective way that reflects our values as a nation, allows American workers to succeed, protects our national security and provides the opportunity for the next great innovations to be created on American soil.

The first pillar of our resolution is workforce. Since AI will reshape the way we work, the federal government must help prepare American workers and students for the jobs of tomorrow by equipping them with the knowledge to build or work with AI systems. 

National security is the second pillar because AI will change the way we defend America, generate intelligence and fight wars. Our resolution outlines how Congress should invest research dollars into human-machine teaming, trustworthiness and ethics.  Our military and intelligence community should trust their AI systems. And all Americans should trust that America, not the CCP or Russia, has the most effective AI systems in the world. 

The third pillar is R&D, because Americans and Congress know the importance of investing in the future. During the origins of the internet and during the digital revolution, American R&D expenditures made a huge difference on the development of new tech but these investments have stagnated. In the meanwhile China’s has quadrupled. And, we have other tools for accelerating R&D besides spending. Computing resources and data are essential ingredients for AI research. The federal government should expand access to existing supercomputing resources for AI researchers and build on the Open Government Data Act to release more datasets for public use. 

Ethics is our fourth pillar, and it is pivotal to ensuring American values are reflected in the next big driver of America’s economy. Congress already has a natural entry-point for promoting the ethical use of AI through its oversight function. Each Congressional committee should review the existing regulations in their jurisdiction and include AI policy in their oversight agendas. This is the best way to protect the American public, take advantage of AI and ensure accountability. 

Technology and AI is the future, and we must take advantage of it before it takes advantage of us. If we want America to remain the global leader, we must take AI seriously by promoting its benefits and creating limits where appropriate. I hope my colleagues in Congress recognize this importance and join Congresswoman Kelly and me in passing this key resolution. We look forward to making the possibility of American AI leadership a reality.