Sep 20, 2023 - Technology

Exclusive: First AI plan in Republican primary

Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Republican presidential primary contender Will Hurd is the first candidate to release an AI policy plan — framing coming AI development as a "Cold War with China" and urging licensing of frontier AI models.

Why it matters: Hurd's hawkish, pro-regulation of AI approach is notable given his deep AI credentials.

  • Hurd, a former Republican member of Congress from Texas, chaired the first AI hearing in the House in 2018. He also claims credit for writing "the first National Strategy for AI" (a congressional resolution) and served on OpenAI's board from 2021 until July.

Hurd writes that "powerful AI models should need to obtain a permit" — and likens them to nuclear power plants.

He wants a Republican AI strategy to "take advantage of technology before it takes advantage of us," and also supports:

  • "Strict regulations of sensitive AI technology exports."
  • Ensuring AI is deployed along "every mile of our border."
  • Compensating creators "when their creations are utilized in AI-generated content."
  • Making coding and data analytics standard middle school subjects, noting that "AI threatens 85 million jobs worldwide."

Between the lines: Though AI promises to shape both 2024 campaign methods and debates, even candidates with tech industry backgrounds — including Vivek Ramaswamy and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-N.D.) — have avoided AI specifics thus far.

Yes, but: Hurd, a moderate who quit his seat in Congress in 2020, has so far failed to qualify for either of the Republican primary debates and has not topped 1% nationally in polls.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that Hurd chaired the first AI hearing in the House of Representatives, not the first AI hearing in Congress. The first AI hearing in Congress was in the Senate in 2016.

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