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Artificial Intelligence: How Can We Better Prepare for the Future?

Yesterday, I testified about artificial intelligence (AI) before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. The hearing examined the benefits and challenges of AI in today’s digital economy, how to build trust in AI systems, and steps the US government can take to remain a leader in AI.

I focused on two main questions. First, what is AI? The AI provided by BSA members today is a tool that uses data to help people solve complex problems and simplify our daily lives. Whether it is securing networks, improving health, or helping American farmers save money, AI is already visible in every industry, in every state, and across the globe.

Second, how can we prepare to address important issues that may arise as AI-enabled services are deployed? AI will change the skill sets needed for certain jobs. And while new AI-related jobs will be created, there will be shifts in the economy. BSA members are already launching initiatives to provide free training, including for youth and military veterans, to ensure that both the current workforce and the next generation are prepared for the future.

We are also mindful of the need to ensure that AI is both trained and used fairly and responsibly. Again, the software industry is leading – both on efforts to ensure AI is trained in an unbiased manner, and on working to recognize the potential of using AI to lessen discrimination and broaden inclusion.

There is also work Congress can do. AI depends on data, so we urge Congress to pass the OPEN Government Data Act and to lead on digital trade, including international data flows. Second, we support further work on government research on AI, including on how AI can contribute to economic and social benefit, and to incentivize private sector R&D. Third, we need to prioritize education and workforce development so that our young people and our current workforce are ready for tomorrow.

As part of all this, we need to have a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders about how to address any challenges that lie ahead. We look forward to working with Congress towards a clearer understanding of AI, and to address these challenges and embrace the opportunities.

Thank you to Chairman Roger Wicker, Ranking Member Brian Schatz, and the Members of the Subcommittee for inviting me to be a part of the discussion. You can read my full testimony here and watch a recording of the hearing here. More information on understanding AI is available here.

Victoria Espinel

Author:

Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of Software.org: the BSA Foundation. Software.org is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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