The AI Industry Has a Not So Secret Weapon: Lobbyists

Key Takeaways:

– Lobbying efforts from the AI industry increased by 185% in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to a report from CNBC.
– Companies such as OpenAI, Anthropic, Nvidia, AMD, Palantir, Tesla, and ByteDance were among those that sought to influence Congress.
– The tech industry has been actively lobbying to sway regulatory decisions and avoid new regulations that could be detrimental to their business interests.
– Lobbyists successfully helped kill a bill in California that aimed to regulate the use of AI.
– “AI advisors” have been occupying positions in prominent Congressional offices and think tanks to promote light-touch regulatory schemas.
– The increased lobbying efforts contradict claims by major figures in the AI industry, such as Sam Altman and Elon Musk, who have expressed support for government regulation.
– The AI industry’s significant financial investments in lobbying undermine the moral high ground claimed by tech executives.
– The report also highlights other recent developments in the AI industry.

Gizmodo:

Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert (Getty Images)

A new report from CNBC shows that lobbyists connected to the AI industry were quite busy last year. Indeed, in 2023, AI lobbying efforts shot up 185 percent from the previous year. The analysis, which is based on disclosures provided to the non-profit OpenSecrets, shows that the long list of companies that tried to exert their influence in the halls of Congress last year include prominent AI businesses like OpenAI, Anthropic, Nvidia, and AMD, as well as companies where AI is core to their business, like Palantir, Tesla, and even TikTok owner ByteDance.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, though it does put a cold hard number to the amount of cash Silicon Valley is willing to throw around in an effort to sway the regulatory trajectory of its new golden calf.

In recent months, we’ve seen multiple examples of the tech industry’s influence efforts. A report from Bloomberg in September noted the degree to which AI lobbyists had been courting state governments as part of an organized effort to steer statehouses away from new regulations that might be unfriendly to their client’s business interests. The story notes how lobbyists helped kill a bill in California that would have regulated how companies use AI.

Similarly, a story from Politico last year showed how a network of “AI advisors” had descended upon Washington D.C., where they were occupying spots at prominent Congressional offices and think tanks, in an effort to spread the gospel of “effective altruism” and light touch regulatory schemas.

All of these efforts help put the lie to the schtick played by major figures in the AI industry over the past several months (*cough, cough* Sam Altman and Elon Musk), who have been pretending they actually want governments to regulate their businesses. If they were serious about regulations, you wouldn’t expect to see these businesses throwing so much money at the legislative process.

So much for the moral high ground of tech executives. Here are a couple other things that happened in AI this week.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

According to a report from CNBC, lobbying efforts from the AI industry increased by 185% in 2023 compared to the previous year. Companies such as OpenAI, Anthropic, Nvidia, AMD, Palantir, Tesla, and ByteDance (owner of TikTok) were among the many that tried to influence lawmakers in Congress. This surge in lobbying shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it reveals the extent to which Silicon Valley is willing to spend money to shape the regulatory landscape for AI. Recent examples have shown how AI lobbyists have been working to prevent new regulations that could affect their clients’ interests, such as helping defeat a bill in California that aimed to regulate AI use. Additionally, a network of “AI advisors” has been active in Washington D.C., spreading the idea of “effective altruism” and advocating for light-touch regulations. These efforts contradict the claims of major figures in the AI industry, like Sam Altman and Elon Musk, who have publicly expressed support for government regulations. The significant amount of money spent on lobbying suggests that these businesses may not be as sincere in their desire for regulation as they claim.