Happy Sunday and welcome to InsideAI! I'm Rob May, a Partner at PJC, investing in AI and Robotics. If you've been a subscriber for a few years, you may remember that this newsletter was originally called Technically Sentient. Well, the Inside team was nice enough to give me that name back, and I'm going to do re-launch the original newsletter format on that domain - twice a month, with a little more research and commentary, and less news focus. I'll still write original content here too for the weekend commentary section, but, if you want more pure commentary, you can sign up for Technically Sentient.
U.S. Reps Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Will Hurd (R-TX) released a third AI report that calls on the federal government to double its AI R&D funding. The congress members released two prior AI reports on national security and the workforce, which were done in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for New American Security. The latest report makes 14 recommendations, starting with asking Congress and the White House to double AI R&D spending immediately and commit to raising the total yearly federal AI R&D spending to $25b by FY202
Amazon awarded its $500k Alexa Prize to Emory University students who developed the Emora chatbot. The self-evolving bot is a "social companion" that can discuss everyday topics through Alexa-enabled devices. Amazon gives out the prize every year to teams that design social bots for Alexa. Judges assign scores out of 5 points based on how coherent and engaging the bots are.
U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation that would prohibit private companies from collecting biometric data—including faceprints and fingerprints—without consumers' and employees' consent. The National Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2020 would allow consumers and state attorney general to file lawsuits if their biometric data is obtained without permission. It would also bar companies from selling that data. The proposed federal law mirrors a biometric privacy law in Illinois, which resulted in a $650m proposed settlement by Facebook for its photo-tagging feature.