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Sen. Cruz Chairs First Congressional Hearing on Artificial Intelligence

"Today, we are on the verge of a new technological revolution"

November 30, 2016

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today chaired a hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness titled “The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence.” The hearing was Congress’ first ever hearing focused solely on artificial intelligence and conducted a broad overview of the state of artificial intelligence, including policy implications and effects on commerce.

Sen. Cruz invited five witnesses to the hearing, including Greg Brockman, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer, OpenAI; Dr. Steve Chien, Senior Research Scientist, Autonomous Space Systems Technical Group Supervisor, Artificial Intelligence Group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; Dr. Andrew Futreal, professor in the Department of Genomic Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Eric Horvitz, Interim Co-Chair, Partnership on Artificial Intelligence and Managing Director, Microsoft Research Lab; and Dr. Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. 

Watch the hearing in its entirety here. Sen. Cruz’s opening statement can be viewed here, and the full text of his opening remarks is below: 

“Throughout history, mankind has refused to accept the complacency of the status quo and has instead looked to harness creativity and imagination to reshape the world through innovation and disruption.

“The Industrial Revolution, Henry Ford’s moving assembly line, the invention of flight and commercial aviation, and more recently, the creation of the Internet- have all acted as disruptive forces that have not only changed the way we live but have been engines for commerce that have offered consumers enormous freedom. 

“Today, we are on the verge of a new technological revolution thanks to rapid advances in processing power, the rise of ‘big data’, cloud computing, mobility due to increased wireless capability and advanced algorithms.

“Many believe that there may not be a single technology that will shape our world more in the next 50 years than artificial intelligence. 

“In fact, some have observed that as powerful and transformative as the Internet has been, it may best be remembered as the predicate for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“Artificial intelligence is at an inflection point. While the concept of artificial intelligence has been around for 60 years, more recent breakthroughs such as IBM’s chess-playing Deep Blue victory over world champion Garry Kasparov, advancements in speech recognition, the emergence of self-driving cars and IBM’s computer Watson’s victory in the TV game show ‘Jeopardy!’ have brought artificial intelligence from mere concept to reality. 

“Whether we recognize it or not, artificial intelligence is already seeping into our daily lives.

“In the health care sector, artificial intelligence is increasingly being used to predict diseases at an earlier stage, thereby allowing the use of preventative treatment which can help lead to better patient outcomes, faster healing and lower costs. 

“In transportation, artificial intelligence is not only being used in smarter traffic management applications to reduce traffic, but is also set to disrupt the automotive industry through the emergence of self driving vehicles. 

“Consumers can harness the power of artificial intelligence through online search engines and virtual personal assistants via smart devices such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.

“Artificial intelligence also has the potential to contribute to economic growth in both the near and long term. A 2016 Accenture report predicted that artificial intelligence could double annual economic growth rates by 2035 and boost labor productivity by up to 40 percent.

“Furthermore, market research firm Forrester recently predicted that there will be a greater than 300 percent increase in investment in artificial intelligence in 2017 compared to 2016.

“While the emergence of artificial intelligence has the opportunity to improve our lives, it will also have vast implications for our country and the American people that Congress will need to consider moving forward. 

“Workplaces will encounter new opportunities thanks to productivity enhancements. As artificial intelligence becomes more pervasive, Congress will need to consider its privacy implications. There is also a growing interest in this technology from foreign governments who are looking to harness this technology to give their countries a competitive advantage on the world stage.                                                      

“Today, the United States is the preeminent leader in developing artificial intelligence. But that could soon change. According to the Wall Street Journal, ‘the biggest buzz in China’s Internet industry isn’t about besting global tech giants by better adapting existing business models for the Chinese market. Rather, it’s about competing head-to-head with the U.S. and other tech powerhouses in the hottest area of technological innovation: artificial intelligence.’

“Ceding leadership in developing artificial intelligence to China, Russia and other foreign governments will not only place the United States at a technological disadvantage but it could also have implications for national security.

“We are living in the dawn of artificial intelligence, and it is incumbent that Congress and this subcommittee begin to learn about the vast implications of this emerging technology to ensure that the United States remains a global leader throughout the 21st Century.

“This is the first congressional hearing on artificial intelligence, and I am confident it will not be the last as this growing technology raises opportunities and potential threats at the same time. 

“I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panel of experts today, and at this point I will yield to our subcommittee’s ranking member Gary Peters to give an opening statement.”

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