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### Mitigating the Risk of Losing the AI Talent Race in the US

Without comprehensive immigration reform and a focus on higher education, the United States faces the potential loss in the competition for AI talent, as highlighted in The Hill.

The realm of AI is revolutionizing our daily experiences, ranging from facial recognition to ChatGPT, and reshaping pivotal sectors like agriculture and manufacturing in the U.S. This widespread integration of AI has ignited discussions in Congress regarding regulations, President Biden’s initiatives on the development and ethical application of AI, and the need for a skilled workforce to uphold its ethical standards.

The significance of fostering a proficient AI-ready workforce cannot be overstated. Despite the presence of numerous STEM professionals in the U.S., there remains a crucial demand for more individuals to propel American innovation in this domain. Failure to address this shortage could result in the United States falling behind in the global AI talent race.

Developing a robust talent pool necessitates a multifaceted strategy. It is imperative to enact reforms that enable foreign-born AI experts to contribute to the U.S. workforce, whether they were educated abroad or domestically.

The U.S. must revamp its immigration policies to attract and retain highly skilled AI professionals. Notably, prominent figures in the tech industry such as Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft are of foreign origin or received their education outside the U.S. The positive impact of this diverse STEM talent on American AI innovation is undeniable, with a significant portion of top AI companies having founders who were international students in the U.S. Furthermore, a substantial percentage of graduate students and STEM doctoral employees in the U.S. are foreign-born, emphasizing the critical role of attracting and retaining global AI talent.

Legislative efforts like the bipartisan bill introduced by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Sen. Mike Rounds aim to facilitate the retention of international students with advanced STEM degrees from U.S. universities, underscoring the importance of skilled immigration in bolstering the U.S. STEM workforce and advancing AI capabilities.

To further enhance the retention of AI talent, the U.S. should expand the availability of H1-B visas for university-trained professionals and make specialized visas like the O-1 visa more accessible to exceptional AI experts. Introducing an exclusive visa category for emerging technologies and granting green cards to STEM Ph.D. graduates would also contribute to harnessing top-tier AI talent.

In parallel, integrating AI education across all academic levels is crucial. Initiatives like Sen. Maria Cantwell’s call for AI integration in education and investments by universities in AI-focused curricula and faculty demonstrate a proactive approach to meet the demand for skilled AI professionals. Additionally, reskilling the existing workforce and nurturing AI literacy from K-12 levels are vital steps in preparing future generations for AI-centric careers.

Moreover, leveraging research universities to provide practical experience through public-private partnerships and internships is essential in equipping students with hands-on skills essential for AI roles. Collaboration between academia, industry, and government is pivotal in fostering a competent AI workforce and sustaining global competitiveness in this field.

In conclusion, investing in diverse AI talent is imperative for the U.S. to maintain its edge in AI innovation and economic growth. Neglecting the development of AI professionals could exacerbate the shortage of skilled practitioners, impeding the nation’s progress in this critical technological domain.

José-Marie Griffiths, B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., president of Dakota State University and former commissioner of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, brings a wealth of experience in research, education, leadership, and higher education administration.


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