Last week, a diverse group of business organizations, labor unions, economists, venture capital firms, and former government officials filed nine “friend of the court” briefs in support of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard. The briefs are significant because they demonstrate broad-based support not just for a single business transaction but also for a commercial environment that fosters competition and drives innovation. You can read more about the briefs here.
Enjoy the start of the fall season! Below, we’ve rounded up tech policy news on several key topics and highlighted a tech podcast. Thank you.
This Week in Washington
- CNN and Semafor: President Joe Biden announced that the White House is planning to introduce an executive order on AI this fall that will build upon an earlier proposal for an AI Bill of Rights, which civil society groups have urged federal agencies to implement. This executive order could require cloud computing firms to disclose to the government when customers, particularly foreign countries, purchase large amounts of computing resources – a step toward treating computing power as a national resource.
- Politico: Speaking at the POLITICO AI & Tech Summit this week, the Central Intelligence Agency’s director of AI Lakshmi Raman shared the agency’s interest in monitoring artificial intelligence as a potential national security threat – and the benefits of the technology in enhancing the government’s defense capabilities.
- Bloomberg and Axios: With a new Democratic majority, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced plans to reinstate net neutrality rules governing broadband providers. In October, the FCC is set to vote on the proposed rules, which aim to prevent internet companies from slowing down service, blocking content, or showing preferential treatment to websites that pay.
- Fierce Telecom and StateScoop: Some states could see their plans to spend their allotted funds from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program impacted by the 2024 election cycle if they are not approved in time. As state broadband officials race against the election clock, they could face another setback as a looming government shutdown could further delay their ongoing efforts to improve the digital divide. Officials, including Alan Davidson of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel, spoke out about the importance of continuing efforts to connect people online and what this shutdown could mean for efforts that are in motion.
- CyberScoop: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) launched a new campaign under their Cybersecurity Awareness Program encouraging Americans to adopt basic cybersecurity habits to stay safe online. The launch of this campaign comes amid several high-profile cyberattacks and as the Biden administration seeks to make structural reforms to U.S. cybersecurity policies.
- The Verge: OpenAI announced that ChatGPT can now browse the web using Bing, enabling the company’s paying customers on certain subscription plans to find real-time “current and authoritative” information. ChatGPT joins Microsoft’s Bing Chat and Google’s Bard in current internet search and browsing, instead of relying on the historical information through September 2021 on which the company trained its large language model.
- Computerworld: Microsoft may seek to power some of its data centers using small nuclear reactors. The company recently signed an agreement to power a Virginia data center with carbon-free nuclear power from Constellation Energy, and now, a job posting for a nuclear technology program manager hints at a future roadmap toward adopting more nuclear power.
- CNET: Amazon will invest up to $4 billion in Anthropic, using AWS cloud computing power and eventually making language models available to AWS customers. Anthropic previously received investment from Google.
- Forbes: Employees from TikTok, and its parent company ByteDance, may be able to search through close contacts of users, including celebrities and public figures through their social graph tools, raising national security concerns. Former employees of the company have expressed concern about the lack of controls that seem to be in place when it comes to the personal information of users.
- The New York Times: Acclaimed painter David Salle has been training generative AI programs to create sophisticated art for nearly a year, hoping it would adopt more of his techniques and leave behind the photorealism it is often known for. This move has put Salle at the frontline of innovation in the creative field.
- The Economist: California and other states have been working to put regulations in place that protect children online; however, many of the regulations that states have been looking to implement have faced challenges regarding the First Amendment rights of children.
- VT Digger: Vermont, which is set to receive $229 million through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, could face a delay in receiving funds to expand their high-speed internet access as the recent proposal on how to allocate the funds left out some unserved areas, such as remote hunting grounds.
- CyberScoop: An online hacking community known as “the Com,” which has been linked to several high-profile security breaches, is made up of young people who have turned to a life of online crime. The skills and capabilities that the community showcases could give Congress a reason to revisit the recommendations from the Cyber Safety Review Board for funding for juvenile cybercrime prevention programs.
- The Hill: The rising number of cybersecurity attacks on K-12 schools across the U.S. has been putting students in a dangerous position, despite lacking the financial data often sought after in these attacks. With their data being vulnerable, many students could face repercussions of identity theft later in life.
- Microsoft Research Podcast
This episode features Partner Research Manager Hanna Wallach, whose research into fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics in AI and machine learning has helped inform the use of AI in Microsoft products and services for years. Wallach describes how she and a team of applied scientists expanded their tools for measuring fairness-related harms in AI systems to address harmful content more broadly during their involvement in the deployment of Bing Chat; her interest in filtering, a technique for mitigating harms that she describes as widely used but not often talked about; and the cross-company collaboration that brings policy, engineering, and research together to evolve and execute the Microsoft approach to developing and deploying AI responsibly. (AI Frontiers: Measuring and mitigating harms with Hanna Wallach – September 28, 2023)