April 18, 2024

Young, Cantwell, Blackburn, Hickenlooper Introduce Bill to Ensure U.S. Leads Global AI Innovation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), all members of the Commerce Committee, will today introduce the bipartisan Future of AI Innovation Act, which lays the foundation to maintain U.S. leadership in the global race to develop artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. The legislation promotes strong partnerships between government, business, civil society and academia to advance AI research. It authorizes the U.S. AI Safety Institute at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to promote the development of voluntary standards, and creates testbeds with national labs to accelerate groundbreaking AI innovation for the benefit of future economic growth and national security.

“The Future of AI Innovation Act is critical to maintaining American leadership in the global race to advance AI. This bipartisan bill will create important partnerships between government, the private sector, and academia to establish voluntary standards and best practices that will ensure a fertile environment for AI innovation while accounting for potential risks. One of my top priorities for federal AI policy is to ensure these technologies are developed in a manner that reflects our democratic values and supports innovation continuing to flourish in the United States, and this bill represents an important step forward in that effort,” said Senator Young.

“Our bill ensures the United States will lead on AI for decades to come. It promotes public-private collaboration to drive innovation and competitiveness. The NIST AI Safety Institute, testbeds at our national labs, and the grand challenge prizes will bring together private sector and government experts to develop standards, create new assessment tools, and overcome existing barriers. It will lay a strong foundation for America’s evolving AI tech economy for years to come,” said Senator Cantwell. 

“The Future of AI Innovation Act encourages coordination between the U.S. government and industry to capitalize on the promise of AI to revolutionize our lives,” said Senator Blackburn. “The bill mobilizes the expertise of our National Laboratories, like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to create testbeds for synthesizing new materials for AI systems. It would also require the identification of regulatory barriers to AI innovation and strengthens our national posture in standard setting bodies – making sure the government helps, rather than hinders, technological advancement. These policies will help us use AI to find solutions for important issues facing Americans today, including detecting fentanyl and illicit contraband and improving border security.”

“Artificial intelligence has enormous potential, but it’s up to us to make sure it’s harnessed for responsible innovation,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “Our bipartisan Future of AI Innovation Act empowers the U.S. AI Safety Institute to develop the research, standards, and partnerships we need without compromising our position at the forefront of this technology.”  

As foreign adversaries and competitors invest heavily in AI, it’s critical the U.S. maintains leadership and this bill builds on CHIPS and Science Act investments to support key private sector innovation in AI. This legislation builds upon Senators Young and Cantwell’s original FUTURE of AI Act, which created the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC), a committee of outside experts who make recommendations to the government on AI. Provisions in the Future of AI Innovation Act were drafted based on recommendations from NAIAC reports.

The Future of AI Innovation Act:

  • Authorizes the NIST AI Safety Institute to Develop AI Standards: Formally establishes the AI Safety Institute at NIST to develop voluntary guidelines and standards with the private sector and federal agencies to promote robust long-term innovation in AI. The Institute will develop performance benchmarks, evaluations and clear transparency documentation standards for AI systems, while helping companies and consumers better understand and use AI tools.
  • Creates New AI Testbeds with National Laboratories to Evaluate AI Models and Make Discoveries that Benefit the U.S. Economy: Creates testbed programs between NIST, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the private sector to develop security risk tools and testing environments for companies to evaluate their systems for capabilities and limitations. This bill also authorizes public-private partnership testbeds to create new materials for advanced manufacturing and testbeds to make new scientific discoveries by using AI integrated with emerging technologies, such as quantum hybrid computing and robotics.
  • Creates Grand Challenge Prize Competitions to Spur Private Sector AI Solutions and Innovation: Grand challenges elevate and expedite high-priority projects and engage researchers across the country for the benefit of the nation’s competitiveness. The grand challenges would prioritize finding AI solutions through the integration of advanced AI technology and emerging technologies like quantum computing. Grand challenges are aimed at overcoming barriers to the further development of AI and computing, microelectronics, advanced manufacturing, and other economic priorities like breakthroughs in maritime vessel propulsion systems and border security, including fentanyl and illegal drug detection.
  • Accelerates AI Innovation with Publicly Available Datasets: Directs federal science agencies to make curated datasets available for public use to accelerate new advancements in AI applications, including solutions to global challenges in agriculture, medicine, transportation, manufacturing and more. Unlocking datasets will help make discoveries in AI and benefit small and medium businesses that often don’t have access to as much data.
  • Creates International Alliances on AI Standards, Research and Development: Forms a coalition with U.S. allies to cooperate on global standards and creates a multilateral research collaboration between scientific and academic institutions across the world to spur AI research and innovation. This collaboration is based on a NAIAC recommendation.

Full text of the legislation can be found here. A section-by-section of the bill can be found here.