What is The Greatest Threat to AI Talent in the US?

A recent report finds that international students outnumber homegrown talent 2:1 among newly graduated AI experts. Thus this has been argued to be driving American leadership in the critical and increasingly crowded field. So what could potentially hinder people from outside of the US from staying in the US to work? You might have already guessed due to my clear hint.

It is of course: immigration!

New talent is as you by now and could have guessed before reading the stats in the introduction incredibly important. Part of the US success is attributed to being able to attract top talent, train them in top universities and employ them in academia or private sector.

This balance can be upset by short-term increase in the attractiveness of other states. 80% of international students stay in the U.S. after graduation, but large changes threaten this trend.

According to the report the rollback of Optional Practical Training, a program that allows graduates to work in the U.S. for three years after finishing school is a risk to retaining talent. Axios reports to summarise:

  • The program is being challenged in court, and the Trump administration has prioritized cutting it back.
  • “This would be a really bad development for the U.S. from an AI competitiveness perspective,” Zwetsloot tells Axios.
  • The White House has proposed reallocating the number of visas to accommodate more high-skilled immigrants. But Zwetsloot says that’s not enough.
  • “Ultimately, increasing numerical caps will do a lot more for U.S. retention of the best and brightest than tweaking the allocation system for an insufficient number of slots,” he says.

Therefore it may open the chance, should US not ensure better immigration rules, for other countries to attract AI talent should countries choose to respond to this quickly enough.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 198. I write one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days.

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau