This Week in Washington IP: Advancing NSF Scientific Research, Addressing Equity in AI and Broadband, and Clean Energy R&D Legislation week in Washington IP news, the Senate remains largely quiet as it enters a scheduled state work period on the 2021 legislative schedule. However, the House of Representatives has several hearings scheduled related to R&D, including a legislative markup hearing by the House Energy Subcommittee focusing on a pair of bills involving efforts to support clean energy research and a House Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on addressing gaps in broadband Internet equity for rural and tribal communities. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts events this week exploring recent EU calls for global AI regulation as well as increased focus by antitrust regulators on so-called “killer acquisitions.”

Tuesday, May 4

House Subcommittee on Energy

Climate and Energy Science Research at the Department of Energy

At 11:00 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

The early days of the Biden Administration has seen renewed calls for action on climate change and the President’s recently proposed fiscal year 2022 budget figures calls for $14 billion in federal funding to combat climate change, including $500 million to the National Science Foundation for climate and clean energy research. The President also recently announced an intent to nominate a series of key officials at the U.S. Department of Energy including molecular environmental scientist Geraldine Richmond to serve as Under Secretary of Science. The witness panel at this hearing will include Dr. Kristin Persson, Director, Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Dr. Fikile Brushett, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Esther Takeuchi, Chair, Interdisciplinary Science Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Dr. Xubin Zeng, Professor, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Arizona; and Dr. Narasimha Rao, Associate Professor of Energy Systems, Yale School of the Environment.

Wednesday, May 5

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

What’s Next on the EU’s Proposed AI Law?

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

This April, the European Commission released a policy framework providing a coordinated plan for AI incorporation across the EU. Many news outlets have noted that the framework creates regulations on the use of artificial intelligence and facial recognition that will have effects worldwide, with certain entities considered to be high-risk users of AI liable for up to 6 percent of annual global revenues for violating regulations. This event, hosted by ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation, will explore how EU policymakers can achieve effective AI regulations to strengthen EU competitiveness while mitigating any chilling effect to AI innovation. Speakers at this event will include Kilian Gross, Head of Unit, Artificial Intelligence Policy Development and Coordination, DG CONNECT, European Commission; Svenja Hahn, Member, Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age, European Parliament; Cornelia Kutterer, Senior Director, EU Government Affairs (AI, Privacy and Digital Policies), Microsoft; Annika Linck, Senior EU Policy Manager, European Digital SME Alliance; Axel Voss, Member, Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age, European Parliament; and moderated by Benjamin Mueller, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Data Innovation.

House Subcommittee on Energy

The CLEAN Future Act: Driving Decarbonization of the Transportation Sector

At 11:30 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

On Wednesday morning, the House Energy Subcommittee will convene a hearing to discuss a series of proposed bills related to reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. transportation sector, including a pair of bills that seek to increase investment in environmentally friendly technologies. These include H.R. 1512, the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, which would establish a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator employing a green bank model to facilitate investment in zero-emissions technology and climate resiliency projects; and H.R. 2308, the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Future Act, which would establish funding awards of up to 50 percent of U.S. manufacturing facilities for advanced technology vehicle manufacturers or component suppliers or engineering integration projects within the U.S.

Thursday, May 6

House Subcommittee on Research and Technology

National Science Foundation: Advancing Research for the Future of U.S. Innovation Part II

At 11:00 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

President Biden’s recent discretionary funding request for fiscal year 2022 includes $10.2 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 20 percent increase over the enacted funding level for 2021 for the U.S. independent agency charged with supporting basic science and engineering research. This hearing follows another House Research and Technology Subcommittee hearing on the future of the NSF from late April, which focused on maintaining a competitive edge over foreign rivals like China in important technological fields such as artificial intelligence or quantum computing. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Roger M. Wakimoto, Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities, University of California, Los Angeles; Gabriela Cruz Thompson, Director, University Research and Collaboration, Intel Labs, Intel Corporation; Dr. Mahmud Farooque, Associate Director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, DC, and Clinical Associate Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University; Dr. Gerard Blazey, Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships, Northern Illinois University; and Dr. P. Barry Butler, President, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials 

When Unlimited Potential Meets Limited Resources: The Benefits and Challenges of High-Speed Rail and Emerging Rail Technologies

At 11:00 AM on Thursday in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

Rail transportation in America, largely facilitated since the early 1970s by the quasi-public corporation Amtrak, has not seen the type of technological advancements pioneered in automotive or air travel, but in 2022 Amtrak will begin rolling out a new fleet of Acela trains that will be capable of traveling at speeds of up to 186 miles per hour once rail infrastructure improvements are made. Further resources for rail transportation technology will be important to incorporate advancements such as 4G and 5G mobile networking solutions for more Internet connectivity for passengers as well as better logistics in transportation through connected rail cars. The first panel at this hearing will include the Honorable John Porcari, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; Rachel Smith, President and CEO, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; Phillip Washington, CEO, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Danielle Eckert, International Representative, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the Honorable Carbett “Trey” Duhon III, Judge, Waller County, Texas; and Andy Kunz, President and CEO, U.S. High Speed Rail Association. The second panel at this hearing will include Carlos Aguilar, President and CEO, Texas Central High Speed Rail; William Flynn, CEO, Amtrak; Josh Giegel, CEO and Co-Founder, Virgin Hyperloop; Andres de Leon, CEO, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies; Michael Reininger, CEO, Brightline Trains; and Wayne Rogers, Chairman and CEO, Northeast Maglev.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Attend the Patent Public Advisory Committee Quarterly Meeting

At 11:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

On Wednesday morning, the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the USPTO will convene its latest quarterly meeting to review goals, policies, budgets and other concerns for the patent-related operations of the agency. The quarterly meeting will include updates on the USPTO’s patent pendency and quality programs, operations of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and initiatives on innovation expansion and artificial intelligence in information technologies.

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Broadband Equity: Addressing Disparities in Access and Affordability

At 11:30 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

At the end of March, President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion American Jobs Plan for improving U.S. infrastructure in various sectors, including $100 billion earmarked for connecting all of America with broadband Internet access, especially rural and tribal communities where such infrastructure is sorely lacking. Critics of the infrastructure plan note that it ignores the reality of rural broadband provision, which is mainly conducted by small and family-owned companies, and that it effectively subsidizes the development of streaming video services for the financial benefit of major tech firms. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Design Webinar Series: Consumer Products and Fashion

At 1:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

This workshop is designed to introduce business owners, especially those operating in the consumer product and fashion sectors, to the benefits of design patent protection for building value and enforcing valuable intellectual property rights. Topics covered in this workshop include basics of design patents and infringement challenges unique to design patents.

Friday, May 7 

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Dynamic Antitrust Discussion Series: “Killer Acquisitions”

At 10:00 AM on Friday, online video webinar.

In recent years, antitrust scholars and regulators alike have focused on the anticompetitive effects of so-called “killer acquisitions” in which market-dominant companies purchase small innovative startups in order to avoid competition. In early April, the European Commission announced that Facebook may face antitrust enforcement over its acquisition last November of Kustomer, a startup developing high-volume customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, after antitrust concerns were raised by representatives from Austria. This event, co-hosted by ITIF and Competition Policy International, is the fifth event in the Dynamic Antitrust series and features a discussion with a panel including John Mayo, Professor of Economics, Business and Public Policy, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University; Douglas Melamed, Professor of the Practice of Law, Stanford Law School; Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Section Chair, Antitrust & Competition Law Partner, Baker Botts; Daniel Sokol, Huber C. Hurst Eminent Scholar Chair in Law and Professor, University of Florida Levin College of Law; and moderated by Aurelien Portuese, Director, Antitrust and Innovation Policy, ITIF. 

House Task Force on Artificial Intelligence 

Equitable Algorithms: How Human-Centered AI Can Address Systemic Racism and Racial Justice in Housing and Financial Services

At 12:00 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

The further incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) into various financial systems can avoid much of the racial bias that is perpetuated by traditional credit reporting and scoring systems, but many policy pundits have been in search of frameworks for incorporating AI into sectors like housing and financial services in ways that ensure AI algorithms do not simply reinforce the biases of their programmers. This hearing will be one of the first for the House Artificial Intelligence Task Force, which was recently reauthorized as a subcommittee within the House Committee on Financial Services in late April. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Subcommittee on Defense 

Fiscal Year 2022 United States Air Force and Space Force Budget

At 12:00 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending request includes $753 billion earmarked for national defense programs, an increase of 1.6 percent over Congressional appropriations for defense in 2021. Although finer details on this budgetary request will be made more clear later this month, it’s expected that funding will continue to increase for the U.S. Space Force, the newest branch of the military. Recently, the Space Force has awarded contracts to Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin for the development of jam-resistant communications payloads, and the military agency’s chief scientist recently called for efforts to assist in developing AI systems for human augmentation in military operations. The witness panel for this event will include General Charles Q. Brown, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force; General John R. Raymond, Chief of Operations, U.S. Space Force; and the Honorable John P. Roth, Acting Secretary, U.S. Air Force.


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