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Tech Policy 202: Winter 2024 Educational Seminar Series for Congressional and Executive Branch Staff

Monday, January 29, 2024 to Monday, March 11, 2024
Washington, DC

Event Summary

About This Course

ITIF’s winter seminar course takes a deep dive into how artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping our world and, in the process, creating public policy challenges and opportunities. It is designed to develop a deeper understanding of the technology and the associated policy issues. The course is open to Congressional and Executive Branch staff only.

Participants will be exposed to an array of AI policy issues, with the opportunity to discuss and debate questions and policy challenges presented by AI with ITIF analysts and other experts. Participants will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the course if they participate in at least five out of the six classes. The course and certificate are free of charge.

Topics to Be Explored in the Winter 2024 Seminar Series

  • Security and Safety
  • IP & Privacy
  • Telecom and Energy
  • Life Sciences
  • Antitrust and Competition
  • AI & Jobs

Monday, January 29: Security and Safety

Is AI going to kill us all? Some prominent experts argue that AI presents an existential risk to humanity and believe that an international framework is necessary to protect our civilization from potentially catastrophic events, such as AI-enabled bioterrorism or cyberwarfare. Others argue that the United States faces serious national security risks if it falls behind in AI adoption compared to its geopolitical rivals and its focus should be on winning the AI race. Finally, a third group believes that the most serious threats are the most immediate ones, such as the risk of bias, unsafe algorithms, and misinformation, and want to see the government establish sufficient oversight and accountability to prevent harm.

This session will discuss questions such as: How should policymakers guide AI development to align with their interests and values, both domestically and internationally? Where does the United States rank in AI development compared to its peers? And what types of transparency and liability requirements would promote the development of safe and secure AI systems?

Speaker(s):

  • Hodan Omaar, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Data Innovation
  • William "Chip" Usher, Senior Director for Intelligence, Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP)
  • Luke Vannurden, Director of Defense, Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP)

Monday, February 5: IP & Privacy

How does AI impact IP and privacy? Some artists, authors, and actors argue that AI unfairly uses or replicates their work without compensation, while others respond that using AI to produce creative works is no different than using any other tool. Some patent attorneys argue that AI should be eligible to receive patents, while others say that only humans should qualify. Finally, some privacy advocates fear that AI will unleash a wave of intrusive surveillance and uncover hidden details about people’s private lives, while others believe the privacy risks from AI are exaggerated.

This session will discuss questions such as: How should the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Copyright Office treat submissions that were created in part, or in whole, by AI? What protections are necessary to protect the interests of those in the creative industry? How should federal and state privacy laws address AI-related privacy risks?

Speaker(s):

Daniel Castro, Vice President, ITIF, and Director, Center for Data Innovation

Jessica Richards, Senior Vice President, RIAA

Monday, February 12: Telecom and Energy

How will AI impact the telecommunications and energy sectors? Energy and communications networks are the foundation of other AI applications. AI has many different applications for telecom and energy companies themselves, such as optimizing networks, detecting fraud, and improving customer service. AI can help efficiently manage spectrum, embed intelligence into the Internet of Things, and accurately predict supply and demand for renewable energy. At the same time, many AI applications will put more demands on existing wired and wireless networks as well as consume massive amounts of energy. This session will explore the symbiotic relationship between AI and the telecom and energy sectors.

Speaker(s):

Joe Kane, Director, Broadband and Spectrum Policy, ITIF

David Sandalow, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University; former Under Secretary of Energy (Acting); former Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science

Monday, February 26: Life Sciences

Will AI revolutionize life sciences? This session will look at the many opportunities AI creates in the life sciences sector. From using AI to discover new molecules to accelerating literature reviews and transforming R&D productivity, recent technological advancements are already having an important impact on the sector. How does the United States compare to other nations in its use of AI within the life sciences sector, and what does it need to do to stay competitive in the years ahead? In addition, how should policymakers support the use of AI to usher in the promise of personalized, affordable, and innovative healthcare?

This session will examine the trends and technologies that will shape the future of AI in life sciences.

Speaker(s):

Sandra Barbosu, Senior Policy Manager, ITIF

Florenta Teodoridis, Associate Professor of Management and Organization, USC Marshall School of Business

Monday, March 4: AI & Jobs

Will AI take our jobs? From self-driving vehicles to ChatGPT, recent advances in AI have many people questioning how AI will impact their jobs, as well as the implications for the broader workforce. Some economists posit that AI and automation could create large-scale unemployment and have proposed limiting deployment of AI that could displace workers and enacting radical new policies such as Universal Basic Income. Others believe that AI will increase worker productivity, and have an impact on how workers spend their time, but will not lead to higher net unemployment. How should policymakers promote AI and automation to boost wages and productivity? How should they address risks to job disruption from automation? And what skillsets will be most useful for workers in the future AI economy?

This session will discuss the impact of AI and robotics on workers and how best to prepare the workforce for increased automation.

Speaker(s):

Rob Atkinson, President, ITIF

Ethan Pollack, Senior Director, Jobs for the Future (JFF)

Monday, March 11: Antitrust and Competition

Will firms use AI to stifle competition? Some observers fear that since large-scale AI models require massive amounts of data and computing, a few large firms may control these key inputs and use anti-competitive tactics, such as unlawful bundling or exclusive dealing, to stifle competition and hurt innovation. Others fear that firms will use AI-powered algorithms and aggregated data to collude and artificially inflate prices. However, optimists note that AI can help firms automate processes, thereby increasing firm productivity and lowering prices for consumers. Navigating emerging antitrust policy debates will require a nuanced understanding of how AI technology impacts markets and firm-level behavior.

This session will explore the implications of AI for competition and discuss the role of antitrust regulators in shaping the future of AI.

Speaker(s):

Joeseph V. Coniglio, Director, Antitrust and Innovation Policy, ITIF

Maureen Ohlhausen, Partner, Antitrust and Competition, Wilson Sonsini; former FTC Commissioner (2012-2018)

About ITIF

Founded in 2006, ITIF is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress. ITIF’s goal is to provide policymakers around the world with high quality information, analysis, and recommendations they can trust. On the strength and influence of its work, the University of Pennsylvania has ranked ITIF as the top science and technology think tank in the world.While ITIF takes positions on many policy issues, this course is not intended to advocate for its positions. Instead, ITIF aims to further its educational mission by fostering rigorous discussion and examining various facets of contemporary tech policy issues.

Legal Compliance and Ethical Guidelines

ITIF has worked closely with counsel at Perkins Coie LLP to ensure these seminars comply with House and Senate ethics guidelines concerning events attended by congressional staff. ITIF does not employ or retain registered lobbyists, and lobbyists will not be involved in any part of the planning or execution of this series.

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