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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A proposal for $100 billion in new funding for fundamental AI research is circulating Congress with bipartisan support, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Without a big increase in money for AI research, experts say, the U.S. is liable to fall behind fast-moving adversaries like China on critical emerging tech.

The big picture: The White House has hammered the need to stay ahead of competitors. But researchers say doing so will require far more funding than the roughly $1 billion currently earmarked for non-defense AI development annually.

  • By contrast, Shanghai's city government alone plans to invest $15 billion in AI over the next 10 years. (Total Chinese government funding numbers are hard to come by.)

What's happening: Speaking at a conference arranged by the National Security Commission on AI, Schumer announced a "discussion draft" circulating in Congress and among companies.

  • According to Schumer, the proposal would put $100 billion toward AI over the course of five years.
  • It would also create a new agency under the National Science Foundation focused on emerging technology, which would work closely with DARPA, an agency that funds defense-related research.
  • The new money would go toward universities, companies and defense agencies.

What they're saying: "We will do better dollar for dollar than the Chinese government in investing in AI," Schumer said. "But if they outspend us three, four, five to one — which they're doing now — we'll fall behind in five years or 10 years and we will rue the day."

  • "This should not be a partisan issue," he added. "This is about the future of America."
  • Schumer called on the conference attendees, which included some top Pentagon officials and Big Tech bigwigs, to push the proposal along.
  • Despite wide support, he said the proposal does not have the "full-throated support" of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Gunman kills 8 people in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

A screenshot of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook during a news conference Friday morning. Photo: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/Facebook

A gunman opened fire at a FedEx warehouse facility in Indianapolis late Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounding multiple others, authorities said.

Details: "The alleged shooter has taken his own life here at the scene," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook said during a news conference early Friday.

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

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