Republicans are wrongly abandoning AI leadership to Democrats

Only one political party is seriously talking about artificial intelligence — Democrats.

And they’re taking it in the wrong direction.

New York City AI legislation — the first of its kind — went into effect this month.

On its face, the law looks fine: Employers shouldn’t use AI to discriminate in hiring.

That’s true, but the fine print is all costly mandates and government threats.

The Big Apple’s liberal leaders are trying to regulate AI instead of unleashing it to improve lives.

They aren’t alone. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is leading the charge for full-on federal regulation of AI.

And in a recent visit to Silicon Valley, President Joe Biden promised to use the power of government to protect Americans from AI.

Sure enough, his administration has already released a “blueprint” for government control of AI.

Where is the Republican Party in all this?

Unfortunately, the party of free markets is almost completely silent — especially the Republicans running for president.

What’s worse, when GOP leaders do speak out, they sound a lot like Democrats, supporting government control of the most promising technology in generations.

Republicans are abandoning AI leadership to Democrats. That’s bad for the party and, more important, the country.

What happened to the free-market optimism that used to define the GOP?

Not long ago, the Republican Party stood for the growth that leads to greater happiness, health and human flourishing.

The party faithful and their leaders knew that economic change comes with challenges — think lost jobs and fading industries.

But they also understood that change creates better jobs, new industries and a higher standard of living for all.

Now Republicans are at least as likely to rail against change.

No doubt, candidates think the base is angry about how quickly things are changing, but that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Stoking anger and looking backward creates an ever-angrier electorate that no longer believes in a brighter future.

My organization found last year that more than twice as many Republicans would rather have been born 200 years ago than 200 years in the future — and a stunning 36% aren’t sure either way.

That’s not a surprise, given that party leaders won’t embrace the technologies that can make tomorrow immeasurably better than today.

Artificial intelligence is a case in point.

Prior generations of Republicans would have rallied around this extraordinary technology.

Even before the launch of ChatGPT, AI had done extraordinary things.

In 2020, an AI model predicted how proteins fold in the human body, something scientists had spent 50-plus years trying and failing to decipher.

This single advance could dramatically accelerate the development of life-saving medicines, including cures for diseases that afflict tens of millions of Americans.

That’s just one barrier artificial intelligence could break. AI could end traffic fatalities, tailor education to every learner’s unique needs, give low-skill workers greater access to high-paying jobs and so much more.

Will the road be bumpy? Change always is.

But the Republican Party used to realize Americans are courageous enough, clever enough and communal enough to overcome challenges — that in creative destruction, we can create far more and far better than what we destroy.

The automobile, the airplane and even the Internet proved it. Why should AI be any different?

One thing’s certain: The future won’t be better if Republicans let Democrats kill AI in its crib.

The same is true if Republicans do the killing themselves, which seems to be the direction the party is headed.

Republicans used to realize the dangers of government control. It’s guaranteed to stifle AI’s most brilliant innovations.

And you can bet the government will eventually abuse AI for its own purposes.

If the past proves anything, it’s that political control is the enemy of prosperity and liberty.

Can anyone shake the GOP awake?

Millennials and younger generations may be the only hope.

They overwhelmingly think AI is positive and should be encouraged.

How ironic that younger generations have a more classically liberal understanding of technology than the party of economic freedom.

Younger voters become a bigger share of the electorate with every passing year.

They’re looking for leaders who will unleash progress, and their votes are up for grabs.

Democrats aren’t going to give them what they want — and what America needs.

At this point, neither will Republicans.

The sooner the GOP remembers its principles, the sooner it’ll win, and the sooner our country will flourish once again.

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.