How a billionaire-backed network of AI advisers took over Washington

Article by Brendan Bordelon: “An organization backed by Silicon Valley billionaires and tied to leading artificial intelligence firms is funding the salaries of more than a dozen AI fellows in key congressional offices, across federal agencies and at influential think tanks.

The fellows funded by Open Philanthropy, which is financed primarily by billionaire Facebook co-founder and Asana CEO Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, are already involved in negotiations that will shape Capitol Hill’s accelerating plans to regulate AI. And they’re closely tied to a powerful influence network that’s pushing Washington to focus on the technology’s long-term risks — a focus critics fear will divert Congress from more immediate rules that would tie the hands of tech firms.

Acting through the little-known Horizon Institute for Public Service, a nonprofit that Open Philanthropy effectively created in 2022, the group is funding the salaries of tech fellows in key Senate offices, according to documents and interviews…Current and former Horizon AI fellows with salaries funded by Open Philanthropy are now working at the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, as well as in the House Science Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, two crucial bodies in the development of AI rules. They also populate key think tanks shaping AI policy, including the RAND Corporation and Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, according to the Horizon web site…

In the high-stakes Washington debate over AI rules, Open Philanthropy has long been focused on one slice of the problem — the long-term threats that future AI systems might pose to human survival. Many AI thinkers see those as science-fiction concerns far removed from the current AI harms that Washington should address. And they worry that Open Philanthropy, in concert with its web of affiliated organizations and experts, is shifting the policy conversation away from more pressing issues — including topics some leading AI firms might prefer to keep off the policy agenda…(More)”.

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