House Science Committee chairman warns U.S. not to copy China’s playbook to win AI race

House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is cautioning Washington policymakers against copying Beijing’s approach to winning the race for dominance in artificial intelligence.

Mr. Lucas, Oklahoma Republican, said Thursday that Congress needs to establish AI safeguards without overregulation, help build an AI workforce, and strategically spend taxpayers’ cash rather than try to match China’s national AI industrial policy buoyed by billions of dollars of state funds.

“We cannot and should not try to copy China’s playbook but we can maintain our leadership role in AI, and we can ensure its development with our values of trustworthiness, fairness and transparency,” Mr. Lucas said at a House Science Committee hearing.

The admonition from the Republican leader of the influential House committee against replicating the Chinese Communist Party’s tactics comes as Democrats have largely taken a lead in shaping the debate over new AI regulation and legislation to out-compete China on tech research and development.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer kickstarted efforts to write a “China Competition Bill 2.0” last month and has simultaneously pushed for the Senate to author a new regulatory framework for AI.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is among the most active committees probing AI, holding several hearings examining intellectual property issues, human rights concerns, and privacy and legal issues.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, has said he wants to create an “accountability regime for AI,” and senators from other committees are considering several proposals to write AI rules as well.

President Biden’s team, meanwhile, is at work on a National AI Strategy that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has said is taking a “whole-of-society” approach to addressing artificial intelligence. The office’s updated national AI research and development plan released earlier this year emphasized a desire to spend more taxpayer money on AI.

Leading White House officials are meeting two to three times per week on AI as the White House Chief of Staff’s office oversees an effort to determine steps that Mr. Biden can take on AI in the weeks ahead, a White House official said earlier this week.

While lawmakers and the White House formulate new rules for AI that they hope will not stifle innovation, the administration’s top cyber diplomat has also warned that any successful approach to out-competing China on AI will require international cooperation.

Amb. Nathaniel C. Fick said Wednesday that China has relied on a decades-long strategy of intellectual property theft and government subsidies to build its next generation of wireless technology and would look to do the same in AI.

“This is a playbook, it’s a playbook with some distinct elements that got run in telecom and if we allow the Chinese to run it again, they will run it in cloud computing, they will run it in AI, they will run it in every core strategic technology area that matters,” Mr. Fick said at a Hudson Institute event. “And we need to be very clear-eyed now about not letting that happen.”

Mr. Fick, the inaugural leader of the State Department’s cyberspace bureau, said the U.S. needs to form a large coalition of nations and rely on free markets and democratic systems over trying to match China dollar-for-dollar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *