Commentary

Key Congress Staffers in AI Debate Are Funded by Tech Giants Like Google and Microsoft

POLITICO, Brendan Bordelon, December 8, 2023

Big tech companies are funneling money through a science nonprofit to help pay the salaries of AI staffers in Congress — and it’s just one example of the increasing influence outside-funded fellows are exerting on tech policy in Washington.

Top tech companies with major stakes in artificial intelligence are channeling money through a venerable science nonprofit to help fund fellows working on AI policy in key Senate offices, adding to the roster of government staffers across Washington whose salaries are being paid by tech billionaires and others with direct interests in AI regulation.

The new “rapid response cohort” of congressional AI fellows is run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Washington-based nonprofit, with substantial support from Microsoft, OpenAI, Google, IBM and Nvidia, according to the AAAS. It comes on top of the network of AI fellows funded by Open Philanthropy, a group financed by billionaire Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

The six rapid response fellows, including five with PhDs and two who held prior positions at big tech firms, operate from the offices of two of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s top three lieutenants on AI legislation — Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) — as well as the Senate Banking Committee and the offices of Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).

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