Microsoft Announces AI Access Principles

Earlier this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced a set of AI Access Principles to help foster AI innovation and competition. The principles in part define how Microsoft will operate data center infrastructure and other AI assets. The company will make AI tools and development models widely available as well as provide flexibility for developers to use Microsoft Azure for AI innovations. The principles also include commitments to support AI skilling and sustainability. You can learn more in this Microsoft on the issues blog and in coverage from Reuters.

Thank you for reading. Below we’ve rounded up tech policy news highlights from the week and shared a featured podcast.

This Week in Washington 

  • Roll Call and GovTech: Supporters of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) continue to push for the passage of bipartisan legislation to extend the program, which is set to expire in April. If Congress doesn’t restore the program’s funding, nearly 25% of participants would abandon their high-speed connections, saying that affording a plan, even with the support of ACP, is “at least somewhat difficult,” according to a new report.
  • Nextgov/FCW: The Biden administration addressed a key concern from states over requirements in the federal Build America, Buy America Act by waiving requirements that broadband infrastructure projects have to be built with products made in the U.S., allowing them to use components that come from other countries.
  • POLITICO: The Supreme Court heard arguments on state laws from Florida and Texas that would regulate how large tech companies control what content can appear on their sites, and while they think blocking the laws may go too far, most justices believe they likely violate the First Amendment.
  • Nextgov/FCW: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released its finalized Cybersecurity Framework 2.0, a cross-sector guide that looks to help organizations across the economy strengthen their cybersecurity. This new version expands cybersecurity governance guidance, focusing on how firms incorporate cybersecurity strategy into their business practices.
  • Built In: With voters set to head to the polls in just a few months, AI legislation remains at a crossroads with Congress unable to pass robust and sweeping legislation. If Congress is unable to align and pass legislation this year, the 2024 election could dictate the future of AI policies
  • Nextgov/FCW: In 2022, the Bureau of Fiscal Service’s Office of Payment Integrity set up AI checks that the Treasury Department has been using to strengthen its fraud detection process. The technology has helped the department recover over $375 million in the last two years.
  • The New York Times: A new executive order issued this week by the Biden administration aims to restrict the sale of sensitive American data to six countries, including China and Russia. Data on Americans’ locations, health, genetics, financial information, biometric data and other types of information that could identify individuals will all be included in new rules that the order asks the Justice Department to write.

Article Summary

  • Financial Times: Microsoft, OpenAI, and Nvidia are among the investors backing Figure AI, a Silicon Valley start-up aiming to introduce AI-powered humanoid robots to the workforce. The company believes these humanoid robots could help ease a labor shortage and fill “undesirable or unsafe” jobs.
  • The Hill: Florida lawmakers have fast-tracked a bill that would require social media companies to check the ages of users through a third-party source to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, but he is hesitant to sign it, believing there needs to be a “proper balance” between government regulations and parental input when it comes to social media.
  • Broadband Breakfast: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced that the state will spend nearly $150 million to create the state’s Capital Projects Fund grant program and expand high-speed internet to underserved communities across the state.
  • StateScoop: New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new state program, the State Cybersecurity Grant, to expand access to cybersecurity information, tools, resources, and services for local governments.
  • Axios: Leaked documents are providing government officials and security researchers insights to I-Soon, a private China-based offensive cybersecurity company, such as who they have targeted and which Chinese government agencies they’ve worked with.

Featured Podcast

The Wall Street Journal

  • Tech News Briefing
    Paris-based startup Mistral makes artificial intelligence models similar to the ones that power AI tools like ChatGPT and Gemini. And even though it’s less than a year old, it’s already making big waves in the field. On Monday, Microsoft announced a partnership with Mistral, adding Mistral’s new model as an option for developers on its Azure cloud service. As part of the multiyear deal, Microsoft will take a small stake in the company. WSJ tech reporter Sam Schechner tells host Alex Ossola about what Mistral’s entry into the ecosystem means for the future of AI. (The Microsoft-Backed AI Startup That’s Taking on Silicon Valley Giants – February 28, 2024)