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Friday, May 7th, 2021

Senate legislation would create scholarships to encourage AI students to join federal workforce

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A bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Thune (R-SD) this week seeks to maintain the U.S. government’s edge in the modern world by establishing scholarships to encourage students enrolled in artificial intelligence programs to join the federal workforce.

Endorsed by the University of Michigan, Dakota State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, the Internet Association, and BSA|The Software Alliance, the AI Scholarship-for-Service Act would allow students at either the undergraduate or graduate level to get some of their education paid off by committing to work for federal agencies after graduation.

“As advancements in artificial intelligence continue, the federal government must be prepared to promote ethical applications based on American values to counter competitors like the Chinese government, which prioritizes investments in this revolutionary technology,” Peters said. “Incentivizing professionals who are studying this emerging field to serve in the public sector will help our country remain competitive in the long term, strengthen our national security, and ensure this technology is used ethically for the benefit of all Americans.”

Thune echoed the sentiment, noting that this incentivization isn’t merely about government involvement but keeping America at the top of the world stage. This is especially important given that America faces a growing shortage of professionals qualified to work in the field, as noted by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and other AI experts.

“By incentivizing more talent to pursue training in this field, we can ensure America remains competitive globally in this emerging technology,” Thune said.

At issue is that the government is actively competing with the private sector for many of these candidates. Given the growing issue of student debt for many, offering scholarships through qualified educational institutions would help even the playing field. In exchange, graduates would have to serve in the public field for a time equal to their scholarship term. Internships and other work experiences would also help place scholarship recipients in federal, state, local and tribal government positions post-graduation.