Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Emerges as Leader on AI Policy

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Emerges as Leader on AI Policy

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has reportedly emerged as a powerful force in the world of technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

With a fortune of $27 billion, Schmidt has leveraged his wealth and influence to shape public policy and government decisions, Bloomberg reported Friday (Sept. 8).

One of Schmidt’s notable contributions is the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP), a private think tank located near the Pentagon, according to the report. SCSP focuses on the impact of AI and emerging technologies on the U.S. economy and national security. Experts from SCSP have testified before Senate committees and advised the House committee on strategic competition with China. Schmidt and his associates are set to share the stage with senior officials from the President Joe Biden administration at an upcoming technology summit.

Schmidt’s influence extends to Schmidt Futures, an initiative that supports scientists and entrepreneurs, the report said. This initiative indirectly funds the salaries of some White House science office employees and has enabled Schmidt to become part of high-profile advisory committees under the past three presidential administrations. Schmidt has emphasized the need for the U.S. to invest in innovative companies to counter China’s technological advancements, earning recognition from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as a “helpful resource.”

The former Google CEO’s investments in AI startups have also played a role in shaping AI policy, per the report. Schmidt’s venture capital funds and those in which he has a stake have invested in at least 57 AI startups, with seven of them winning government contracts or support. While these investments have contributed to the growth of AI in the U.S., they have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

While Schmidt has warned policymakers about the competitive threat from China, his philanthropic Schmidt Family Foundation has invested in major Chinese tech companies developing AI tools, according to the report.

Schmidt’s influence is not limited to AI, the report said. He has also played a role in shaping the development of biotechnology in the U.S., with his task force’s recommendations being echoed in a White House executive order. Schmidt’s involvement in the National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology further underscores his impact in this field.

The report comes as Washington, regulators and governments around the world are racing to develop and implement an effective AI policy. These entities have stepped up their examination of the technology in a race to mitigate fears about its transformative powers.

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