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Hartzell in D.C. Seeks Congressional Support of Public AI Research and Workforce Initiatives

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — With society at the forefront of an AI revolution, University of Texas at Austin President Jay Hartzell met with members of Texas’ congressional delegation, seeking support for the University’s artificial intelligence initiatives to dramatically expand the AI workforce and conduct critical research. Hartzell’s first trip to Capitol Hill as president underscored the significance and breadth of UT’s AI expertise and its importance to the future of the U.S. economy, national security and defense.

“We have the largest GPU cluster in all of academia. We are home to the National Science Foundation’s Institute for Machine Learning. And we are the headquarters of the Army Futures Command, which works closely with Texas Robotics and other disciplines,” Hartzell said during a reception at the Capitol on Tuesday night. “One challenge we have is the escalating cost of competing with the private sector. It is important that our country invests in public sector AI, and I am grateful to have support of key members of our Texas delegation, who hold seats on some of the most powerful committees in Washington.”

AI initiatives in public research universities such as UT are more often open and act as an enabler for the public good than those in the private sector. Yet, top AI talent has increasingly migrated to the higher-paying private sector. A 2023 survey published in Science.org found that nearly 70% of people with Ph.D.s in AI go to work in the private sector, compared with 21% two decades ago.

“UT has emerged as a leader in AI workforce development and research, and both of these are critical to America’s national security and defense,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. “I look forward to working with President Hartzell to continue building UT Austin’s research capacity and ensuring the next generation of researchers and scientists are from Texas.”

In 2023, UT launched a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI), the first large-scale degree program of its kind and the only master’s degree program in AI from a top-ranked institution. Combined with UT’s existing deep portfolio of AI degrees and programming, the University now has the ability to contribute to America’s AI workforce at an unrivaled capacity.

UT’s AI applications across defense and national security range from robots in conventional warfare to cybersecurity and cyberwarfare. The University is working with the Army Futures Command for rapid adoption and integration of AI systems and robotics for autonomous vehicles in a combat environment that could perform tasks such as search and rescue, mine-clearing operations, firefighting, and surveillance and reconnaissance.

UT’s Strauss Center for International Security and Law is conducting partially classified research on rules of engagement for AI-powered military systems and is advising the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on AI issues, including President Joe Biden’s executive order on the safe, secure and trustworthy development and use of AI.

“The University of Texas is leading the nation in AI research. It is critical to keep on pace with these developing technologies,” said U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, a member of the House Appropriations and Homeland Security committees. “I look forward to working alongside my colleagues in Congress and President Hartzell on this important initiative.”

Hartzell’s message was bolstered by University advertising in two prominent Washington Metro stations, dubbed “Metro Station Domination,” promoting UT as “the epicenter of AI excellence.” UT is uniquely positioned to lead across the spectrum of AI applications that align with the University’s top academic and research strengths. Hartzell has declared 2024 as the “year of AI” at UT.