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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

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