Senate bill looks to boost AI talent in government

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Students would receive scholarships to study artificial intelligence in exchange for federal service, should a Senate bill introduced Wednesday become law.

To be eligible undergraduate and graduate students studying AI or a related field would need to agree to work for the federal or a state, local or tribal government after completing their degree for a period equal to the length of the scholarship.

The AI Scholarship-for-Service Act comes as agencies struggle to enlist AI talent, despite the U.S. attempting to become a global leader in the space — ahead of top competitors like China.

“As advancements in artificial intelligence continue, the federal government must be prepared to promote ethical applications based on American values to counter competitors like the Chinese government, which prioritizes investments in this revolutionary technology,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., one of the bill’s cosponsors. “Incentivizing professionals who are studying this emerging field to serve in the public sector will help our country remain competitive in the long term, strengthen our national security and ensure this technology is used ethically for the benefit of all Americans.”

The National Science Foundation would be expected to designate qualified institutions of higher education (IHE) for participation in the program.

Internship opportunities would also be made available, but employment preference would be given to students willing to work at executive agencies.

Recipients who fail to serve at least three years in the public sector would be made to repay the scholarship.

Peters, who cosponsored the bill with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., previously introduced the bill in 2020, but it was never assigned to a committee.

The University of Michigan, Dakota State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, the Internet Association and BSA | The Software Alliance have all endorsed the legislation.

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artificial intelligence (AI), China, Gary Peters, John Thune, legislation, National Science Foundation (NSF), scholarships, Senate, workforce
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