Cantwell, Energy Secretary Granholm, Tech Execs: Government & Private Sector Can Partner to Safely Drive A.I. Innovation

Pairing federal A.I. research with business A.I. innovation is key to tackling climate change, accelerating clean energy deployment, enhancing national security, & maintaining global leadership in science & tech

SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, joined U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for a roundtable with tech and science leaders to discuss how artificial intelligence can help the U.S. meet a range of national challenges, including sustainability.

The roundtable was held at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) offices in downtown Seattle. In addition to Sen. Cantwell and Sec. Granholm, participants included representatives from Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Micron, SambaNova Systems, and Scale AI. 

“You need to have a public-private partnership and collaboration,” Sen. Cantwell said in her opening roundtable remarks. “If advanced manufacturing meets the information age, and you can have a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing […] There is this huge opportunity for the United States to go back to skilling and training people to your technical degrees with six-figure incomes, and who doesn't want that?”

“In the DNA of Americans is innovation. It is just there. Give them a challenge outline and they will come up with [a] solution,” Sen. Cantwell said.

"The unbelievable work that Maria Cantwell has been doing in this science-technology space is just astonishing. Obviously from her leadership on the CHIPS & Science Act, to all of the other envelopes that she's pushing in the areas of technology -- I feel so lucky that she is on our energy committee,” Sec. Granholm said.

Yesterday, Sen. Cantwell and Sec. Granholm visited Moses Lake to tour a pair of new electric vehicle battery component manufacturing facilities and to discuss opportunities to expand clean energy manufacturing and job growth in Central Washington.

Each of the new facilities being opened by technology pioneers Sila Nanotechnologies and Group14 Technologies respectively received $100 million Energy Department grants in 2022 from funding Sen. Cantwell helped authorize in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

Sen. Cantwell & Energy

Sen. Cantwell is a strong supporter of federal investment into America’s critical energy industry, and of Washington state’s historic role in energy innovation. She was the driving force behind passage of the CHIPS & Science Act, the largest science research investment in U.S. history.  Advanced energy efficiency and AI are two of the 10 key technology areas designated in the CHIPS & Science Act. 

Sen. Cantwell was also instrumental in adding nearly $17 billion in supplemental funding authorization to support research and development at Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories, including the PNNL in Richland, where their world class scientists and one-of-a-kind research facilities support clean energy and U.S. national security priorities, particularly in areas like energy storage, grid modernization, and carbon capture.

The Act also included $16.9 billion in funding to support research at Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories, including the PNNL in Richland, which is a world leader in EV battery research.

In 2008, Sen. Cantwell partnered with former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to author the pioneering $7,500 tax incentive for electrified passenger vehicles. This credit is often cited as a key catalyst for growing the electric car and truck market from essentially nothing 15 years ago to the hundreds of models that consumers will soon be able to choose from.

Sen. Cantwell & AI

As chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Cantwell is developing a series of A.I. bills to address innovation and competitiveness, workforce development and training, and security and combating deepfakes.

In 2020, Sen. Cantwell introduced the bipartisan FUTURE of AI Act, to establish a federal advisory committee to examine the economic opportunities and impacts of AI, which helped create the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC).

Last August, Sen. Cantwell hosted a ‘Future of AI Forum’ in Seattle and called for a new G.I bill for AI education to help reskill workers for jobs of the future. 

In October, Sen. Cantwell applauded President Biden’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence that established new standards for AI safety, security, and innovation, and called on Congress to act on legislation setting a permanent framework for the development and deployment of AI. Last month, she signed onto a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging the inclusion of initial funding of $10 million to establish the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) U.S. Artificial Intelligence Safety Institute (USAISI) in the upcoming fiscal year.

For today’s event: Video of post-roundtable readout remarks are available HERE; a transcript is HERE, and photos are available HERE.

For yesterday’s event: B-roll of the company tours is available HERE; video of Sen. Cantwell’s opening remarks at the roundtable at Sila is HERE and Secretary Granholm’s is HERE; video of the press conference at Group14 is HERE; a transcript of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks at both companies is HERE; photos of the day are HERE.