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On Wednesday, technology leaders including Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates and Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang met with senators to discuss the future of AI. While corporate executives frequently make treks to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers, this wasn’t an ordinary meeting. Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk even told reporters that it “may go down in history as being very important for the future of civilization.”

Image source: Getty Images.

A-listers of AI

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) hosted the Senate’s first AI Insight Forum. The purpose of the event was to educate senators on the issues surrounding AI. Schumer revealed that more than 60 senators attended, with Democratic and Republican senators helping to organize the meeting.

Many A-listers involved with AI were also there. In addition to Gates, Huang, and Musk, the tech executives at the AI Insight Forum included:

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI
Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies
Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META)

In addition, representatives from several organizations that could be impacted by AI were in attendance. They included leaders of the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Motion Picture Association, and the Writers Guild.

On the same page

You might expect there could have been a lot of disagreement with so many business rivals together in one place. Instead, everyone seemed to be on the same page on two key AI issues.

Schumer said after the event that he asked all in attendance if they believe the federal government should play a key role in regulating AI. He stated that every person raised their hand in agreement.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana), one of the co-organizers of the forum, noted another major point of agreement among the tech executives and other leaders. There was a broad consensus that U.S. values rather than Chinese Communist Party values should guide the development of AI, according to Young.

Musk said as he left the meeting, “It was a very civilized discussion actually, among some of the smartest people in the world.” He added, “Sen. Schumer did a great service to humanity here, along with the support of the rest of the Senate. And I think something good will come of this.”

What wasn’t publicly addressed, however, were the details about how the U.S. government should regulate AI. But lawmakers appear to be ready to move relatively quickly. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) thinks AI legislation could be enacted within the next year. Young said that he thinks congressional committees are nearly at the stage of beginning the process of coming up with how to regulate AI.

Investing implications

In many cases, companies don’t like increased government regulation. Some of the executives attending the Senate forum this week have clashed with the government in the past. The prospect of more regulations might make some investors less optimistic about AI stocks.

However, there’s a good argument to be made that AI presents a unique situation. Musk has been vocal about his belief that unchecked AI could even threaten civilization itself. Zuckerberg has referred to the Tesla CEO’s dire predictions in the past as “pretty irresponsible.” But in his prepared remarks for the AI Insight Forum, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the “two defining issues for AI” are safety and access. Both could benefit from government oversight.

The CEOs of Alphabet, IBM, Microsoft, Meta Platforms, Nvidia, Palantir, and Tesla almost certainly wouldn’t welcome government regulation on AI if they thought it wouldn’t ultimately help their companies be more successful. However, we have yet to see what the government’s involvement will entail. As usual, the devil is in the details.

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Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Keith Speights has positions in Alphabet, Meta Platforms, and Microsoft. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Nvidia, Palantir Technologies, and Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends International Business Machines. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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