Senators Want $32 Billion Annually for AI Funding

A bipartisan group of senators releases recommendations around AI, including regulations and funding research.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
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A new Senate report calls for billions in annual spending to help fund AI research.

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A bipartisan group of US Senators released a sweeping plan for how Congress should fund and regulate AI, marking a beginning of what may be significant steps by the government to address the rapidly evolving technology.

The report, published Wednesday, calls for annual spending of $32 billion to help fund AI research outside the military. The senators say they also support legislation to prevent AI-fueled election interference in the form of manipulated recordings of what people say or do, aka deepfakes

"We're not going to wait on legislation that addresses every aspect of AI and society," Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters Tuesday. "In other words, if some areas are ready earlier than others, they should go forward."

Read more: The FCC Made Using AI-Faked Robocall Voices Illegal: Here's How to Report These Calls

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The proposed legislation, noted earlier by The New York Times and Axios, marks one of the biggest moves by the US government to meet the challenges created by the boom in AI technologies. Startups including OpenAI have become multibillion dollar businesses due to technologies like ChatGPT, a chatbot that reached more than 100 million users within two months of its launch nearly two years ago. Since then, AI has been used to remake the tech industry, including at giants like Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, which has declared 2024 to be the year of the "AI PC."

(For hands-on CNET reviews of generative AI products including Gemini, Claude, ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, along with AI news, tips and explainers, see our new AI Atlas resource page.)

Google this week announced dramatic AI revamps to its products, including into its namesake search experience. Next month, Apple is expected to announce its take on similar AI features for its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, too.

Read more: How Close Is That Photo to the Truth? What to Know in the Age of AI

Though the congressional recommendations mark a major step forward, they aren't the only efforts by the US government to meet the potential impacts of AI. Last year, President Joe Biden announced executive orders that directed federal agencies to address AI in many different ways. The government has also been expanding its hiring efforts in the tech industry, with one focus being AI.

The group of senators said their proposals don't preclude congressional committees or other agencies from creating their own AI plans, including to protect against potential discrimination.