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Somewhat quietly last month, both sides of the U.S. Congress introduced a new bipartisan bill that would radically change the future of artificial intelligence.

Called the CREATE AI Act (Creating Resources for Every American to Experiment with Artificial Intelligence Act), the bill would establish a national AI research resource to provide access to much-needed compute and datasets for academics, nonprofit researchers, and startups.

This bill is necessary to America’s AI future. Why? Currently in the AI industry, we have a concerning imbalance in the control of AI. Only the wealthiest companies - Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, etc. - have the dollars and data to engage in this expensive research. They are building the tools that are capturing the world’s attention: ChatGPT, Midjourney, generative search, and more.

But for-profit companies have one motivation: Profit. Their product labs, focused on short-term horizons, commercial viability, and shareholder value, are defining the conversations in AI and setting the rules of this technology. And the academic labs that think more broadly, with longer time horizons, are being completely shut out. 

This limits the AI innovation ecosystem and risks American leadership in AI. Consider this fact from this year’s AI Index: In 2022, there were 32 industry breakthroughs in AI, only three in academia, and none in government. 

The CREATE AI Act will bring more diverse stakeholders to a table dominated by industry, adding much-needed voices to the conversations around AI’s best uses and the norms of responsible AI. It will spur research that is not profit-motivated, inspiring exciting new innovations similar to other academic successes like GPS, CRISPR, and the internet. It could ensure AI development benefits society, not just customers. 

Stanford HAI has been at the forefront of this discussion. Co-Directors Fei-Fei Li and John Etchemendy conceived the idea of a national resource cloud in 2019, when HAI first launched. We secured the support of presidents and provosts of 22 of the top 30 computer science universities to call for a federal task force to establish a national AI research resource (NAIRR). Fei-Fei joined that task force when it materialized last year. And Stanford HAI, with Stanford Law School, developed an analysis of the NAIRR and a blueprint of how to build it. 

And now we are closer to its reality. Congress is reviewing this act, introduced to both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support on July 28. It is my fervent hope that members of Congress will see its value and pass this bill. Not only is it important for advancing AI research, but it’s important for the nation’s future.

Russell Wald is the Managing Director of Policy and Society at Stanford HAI.

Stanford HAI’s mission is to advance AI research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition. Learn more

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