Rep. Robin Kelly: A Leading Voice on AI Policy in Congress

By Cisco Minthorn, Senior Director of Government Relations & Senior Counsel at Intel 

Last year, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) and former Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) introduced a resolution calling for the creation of a National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, based on four studies conducted in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center on the role of AI in workforce development, national security, research and development (R&D) and ethics. On December 8, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved this nonbinding resolution, showcasing how the U.S. should use its resources to maintain its leadership in emerging technologies like AI. Rep. Kelly’s work is noteworthy because it takes a holistic view of AI and of the U.S. government’s role in helping to shape the way this transformative technology will help usher our nation into the future.

On a recent episode of the Intel on AI podcast, Rep. Kelly joined host Abigail Hing Wen, Intel’s data platforms tech evangelist, to discuss how she became involved in artificial intelligence policy and what type of role governments can play to assist in AI’s further deployment.

“The endgame is for the U.S. to be a part of shaping global policies around AI,” Kelly explained.

Artificial intelligence is one of the emerging technologies that will make or break the nation’s ability to maintain a competitive economy and to keep itself secure in the 21st century. Governments around the world have been working for the past several years to shape public policy landscapes to help their societies take advantage of AI’s promise while mitigating against any potential disruptions. The European Commission, for instance, put forward an AI Strategy in 2018.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., policymakers haven’t considered the new technology as comprehensively until Rep. Kelly’s resolution. Before Rep. Kelly’s work, the conversation in Congress was often either fearful of AI or took a narrow focus, such as only considering national security implications. This put the U.S. at risk of falling behind on technological innovation, vis-à-vis other major global powers. Rep. Kelly’s resolution was the clearest embrace of the technology and its power to do good for society while not skirting important issues, like how to empower workers and how to mitigate ethical and privacy concerns.

We must prioritize being a global leader in AI, and U.S. competitiveness and leadership means supporting the development of technology that will enable benefits like helping doctors detect cancer earlier, helping farmers to increase crop production to feed a growing global population and analyzing data from the billions of connected devices that drive our daily lives. It also means investing in the development of a high-tech workforce that can fill the AI jobs of tomorrow.

At Intel, our AI for Youth program empowers young people around the world with AI skills to help develop the future AI workforce. The program has recently expanded to community colleges here in the U.S., embracing a wide variety of students from underrepresented groups and those looking for reskilling opportunities. High-tech opportunities like AI for Youth play an important role in addressing systemic inequities within the tech workforce and developing a critical pipeline that will help close the tech workforce gap.