At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Fla., introduced a bill that “will support small businesses with financial backing so they can participate in setting global standards for Artificial Intelligence (AI)” and “will assist small businesses by allowing them to participate in the development of global AI standards through grants provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in consultation with the National Institutes of Standards Technology (NIST).”
Franklin showcased the proposal on Monday. U.S. Reps. Jason Crow, D-Col., Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., and Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., are co-sponsoring Franklin’s bill.
“Advances in Artificial Intelligence will play an increasingly defining role in U.S. global competitiveness. That’s why we need to create an environment that allows American small businesses on the cutting edge of technological innovation to participate in creating global standards and regulation in the AI field,” said Franklin on Monday. “This bill promotes economic prosperity by making sure AI standards are more aligned with American business standards. From a national security standpoint, the Chinese Communist Party has openly stated its desire for China to dominate the AI field by 2030. The U.S. must take a leadership role in ensuring China does not set the standards on AI. Our bill is a bipartisan, common sense solution that will keep the U.S. at the forefront of the technological frontier, while simultaneously countering undue Chinese influence in the AI technology sector.”
“Artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies will shape the future in profound ways, and it is important that American companies have a voice in the process,” said Crow. “This bipartisan legislation would implement key recommendations from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and enable American small businesses to play a role in setting international technology standards.”
“As our nation faces new waves of cyberattacks by foreign actors, we must develop artificial intelligence standards that protect the privacy of individuals and businesses while simultaneously promoting technological advancements. It is vital that we do more to help the United States and small businesses lead the way in developing this critical technology and the standards that will govern it,” said Obernolte.
“As a former small businesses owner during the early days of a burgeoning industry, I know first-hand how critical it is to include the voices of small business owners and engineers in the standard setting process,” said McNerney. “Ensuring small businesses have a seat at the table has been a priority for me as the co-chair of the House AI Caucus, and I’m proud that this bipartisan bill will do just that.”
Franklin’s office offered some of the rationales behind the proposal.
“The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence released its final report to Congress on March 1st, 2021 in which it made several recommendations to Congress. Among these was a recommendation to create a grant program to help small and medium-sized American AI companies participate in international standardization efforts. Specifically, the Commission recommended that Congress should authorize a grant program for companies to cover the high costs of engaging in international standardization efforts, including conducting relevant research, developing requisite skills and expertise, preparing standards proposals, and attending technical standards-setting meetings. The input of these companies enables greater technological innovation, helps prevent potential high “switching costs” that may impede their growth, and facilitates the development of solutions for standards that impede exports by these small businesses,” Franklin’s office noted.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Small Business Committee on Friday. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.
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