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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The tech industry hopes to use a House committee hearing Wednesday to both educate Congress on the potential benefits of artificial intelligence while also downplaying many concerns as the work of science fiction.

Why it matters: AI is seen as one of the biggest opportunities in technology, and business in general, but the degree to which regulators embrace or oppose it could dictate the pace of innovation.

The details: In the first of three hearings, the House Subcommittee on Information Technology aims to better understand the current state of AI, barriers to adoption as well as how government might benefit from using the technology

Who's testifying: While tech giants like Google and Facebook are some of the biggest adopters of AI technology, the testimony Wednesday is coming from academics as well as representatives of Intel and Nvidia, two of the companies whose server chips are used to process AI.

The message: Ian Buck, who runs Nvidia's data center business, said his goal is to educate legislators about AI generally, to encourage research and to open legislators eyes to how various federal government entities might use the technology to, for example, speed drug discovery, eliminate waste and improve efficiency.

Both Buck and Intel's Amir Khosrowshahi also aim to counter the notion that AI need be some sort of "black box" saying the industry is on a path toward creating neural networks that can show their decision making process, allowing for corrections as needed.

"All of these things are being worked on fairly intensely not just in academia but also in enterprises and businesses," Khosrowshahi said. "I am very optimistic we are addressing this."

The subtext: The underlying message is that AI is nothing to be scared of. Buck plans to describe AI as little more than the latest evolution of modern statistics. Today's AI is OK for pattern recognition, but human-like intelligence is decades away.

Also implicit is a desire to keep regulation at a minimum.

"My message to Congress is this is a really remarkable time; Let the innovation proceed," Khosrowshahi said.

AI represents the "Biggest economic and technological revolution in our lifetime," Buck said. "The sooner we get started, the sooner we can reap the benefits."

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.

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