AI Gold Rush in Washington – POLITICO

With the help of Ben Schrekinger.

The little AI guys are stepping into Washington’s influence game.

Tech giants and defense contractors have long dominated AI lobbying, seeking both money and favorable regulations. And while the biggest companies still dominate the debate, a bill pending in Congress to get ahead of China in innovation, along with proposed data privacy bills, has sparked a surge in lobbying from smaller AI players.

A number of companies specializing in robotics, drones and self-driving cars are creating their own influence machines in Washington, allowing them to shape the future of AI politics to their liking.

Much of this is driven by one major piece of legislation: the bipartisan Innovation Act, commonly referred to as USICA, an acronym for its previous name, and its goal of surpassing China in innovation.

One tech lobbyist, who was granted anonymity to speak frankly, called USICA’s AI lobbying a “gold rush.” If passed as currently drafted, the bill would generate about $50 billion in additional research spending over the next five years. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called USICA, formerly known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the best response to China’s technological superiority.

Robotics company iRobot has registered The Vogel Group, a DC large firm headed by former GOP aide Alex Vogel, to lobby for the bill. Argo AI, an autonomous driving technology company, has engaged its lobbyists, including a former Rep. chief of staff. Debbie Dingell (Mich.) and former Senator’s legislative assistant. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) – Lobby for supply chain issues at USICA.

Ryan Hagemann, co-director of the IBM Policy Lab, said the “most attention” in AI right now is on USICA legislation.

But expanding lobbying goes way beyond USICA, and it’s not just about chasing government grants.

The most recent version of the US Privacy and Data Protection Act, and Algorithmic Responsibility Law, offer government “impact assessments” for any companies that use algorithms. This means companies may suddenly need to have their technology audited by regulators, a lengthy process that some companies argue should only apply to firms that produce “high-risk” AI, such as facial recognition technology used by police to catch criminals. Low-risk AI like chatbots. IBM, for example, argues that it does not need to conduct the same impact assessments on its general-purpose AI systems as companies that train AI on their own datasets do.

“The question is not who should do the impact assessment, but when the impact assessment should be done,” Hagemann said.

Merve Hickok, head of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Policy, a non-profit digital rights advocacy group, says there’s a lot at stake. Only a handful of companies will need to pass an algorithmic audit if their lobbying is to be effective.

“You see a lot of companies — not just big tech, but some industry groups — are pushing and lobbying for these bonds,” Hickok said, pointing to efforts being made in Europe.

The definition of what constitutes “AI” is fuzzy at first. But many companies that use AI to drive their technology, such as drone makers, have struggled in Washington. Drone company Skydio, seeking additional funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s training and drone acquisition initiative by the Department of Defense, nearly doubled its lobbying spending from $160,000 in 2020 to $304,000 in 2021. Shield AI, which creates artificial intelligence that controls drones for military operations, lobbying spending has increased from $65,000 in 2020 to more than $1.5 million in 2021, a figure set to be surpassed this year. Skydio declined to comment and Shield AI did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, facial recognition companies such as Clearview AI are fighting bills that would put the technology on hold, such as Acta’s Face Recognition and Biometrics Moratorium. Clearview AI, which has faced huge scrutiny from lawmakers due to its controversial facial recognition technology, spent $120,000 on lobbying in 2021 after first registering lobbyists in May 2021.

Hickok noted that AI lobbying in the US continues to be dominated by large companies such as Google and Amazon, even as smaller companies register to lobby on the rise. Hickok said that because the US has not adopted significant AI regulations, it has become “a testing ground while corporations are taking advantage.”

The financial crisis in the cryptocurrency markets continues today: a court in the British Virgin Islands ruled to liquidate the crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.

POLITICS Sam Sutton reports that two executives from the politically connected consulting firm Teneo will oversee the process.

For investors wondering how and why the fund got to this point and worried about what could further destabilize the cryptocurrency markets, new report Today, analytics firm Nansen is tracking some of the related activities. “Dominoes are falling,” Nansen researcher Andrew Thurman concluded in an email.

The report highlights the role of staked Ether, a derivative of Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency issued by Lido Finance. (Pledged Ether is not a currency itself, but rather a token that can be exchanged for Ether. after the Ethereum network is completing a complex upgrade process.) When times were on the up, the market treated staked ether like it was as good as ether. But last month, when TerraLuna’s algorithmic stablecoin melted down, staked Ethereum began trading at a discount compared to the real thing.

The Three Arrows have invested in both the Moon and Ether; According to Thurman, after the collapse of TerraLuna, it sold its Ethereum at a loss and was ultimately unable to recover.

Despite fears of further contagion caused by the fall of the Three Arrows, the market may now be getting a breather. Thurman said that the online position of crypto lender Celsius, which recently sparked concerns over the suspension of withdrawals, has improved, and that the emergency measures taken by Lido appear to have reassured investors.
— Ben Schrekinger

new GAO report on government use of facial recognition tech has discovered that many federal and state agencies are using facial recognition. The GAO found that most of these agencies did not assess the privacy risks associated with facial recognition. Fourteen agencies, from NASA to the Department of Justice, use facial recognition to unlock agency-issued smartphones. It’s a sign that facial recognition has become so commonplace that it’s taken for granted, prompting agencies to use it without fully analyzing its implications.
– Konstantin Kakaes

– Popular pregnancy and ovulation tracking apps reserve the right to share user data with law enforcement, and Forbes analysis found.

– Are advanced technologies too difficult to scale?

– Professor of Finance offers a world-historical way to think about blockchains.

– It is possible that AI can produce ideas

– What does “human-centered” AI do actually looks?