Tighter national borders impede progress in AI. So industry leaders are calling for a different kind of immigration reform.

What happened: The Partnership on AI published a report calling out the corrosive effect of restrictive immigration policies and suggesting alternatives.

What it says: The nonprofit industry consortium’s report calls for countries aiming to grow their AI industry to ease visa requirements for high-skilled tech workers. Among its recommendations:

  • Countries should present visa rules clearly and make the review process transparent, so applicants know they are being judged on skill. Get rid of caps, too.
  • Provide assistance to students and low-income applicants in navigating the visa process. Countries serious about fostering AI should provide students with pathways to citizenship.
  • Update immigration laws to redefine the concept of family to include long-term partnerships and nontraditional marriages.
  • No nation should bar tech workers based on nationality. Moreover, countries should apply patent law, not immigration policy, to protect intellectual property.

Why it matters: Strict immigration policies limit opportunities for researchers and practitioners. They also shut out students, small businesses, startups, and small colleges from the broader AI community. In the U.S., tighter borders are cutting into the country’s competitiveness in AI, according to a new study from Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. CSET recommends eliminating existing U.S. barriers to recruiting and retaining foreign-born AI talent.

We’re thinking: Human capital is critical to AI, and the global community has an interest in channeling it toward worthwhile projects. The Partnership on AI’s recommendations offer a solid foundation for international trade groups, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to build policies that accelerate progress by opening the world to workers in emerging tech.


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