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Even as the world’s top artificial-intelligence researchers gathered in Los Angeles this week, many are beginning to wonder just how much longer the U.S. will remain the epicenter of AI.

The Neural Information Processing System (NIPS) conference in Long Beach is the number one place for presenting breakthroughs in AI. But U.S. government policies threaten to put a dampener on the recent boom in the field.

The U.S. Congress’s tax plan is the latest challenge, threatening to raise costs for graduate students significantly. This follows reduced funding for fields including AI and tightening of rules on immigration for international researchers.

“Through decades of public and private investment, the U.S. currently leads in AI basic research,” says Andrew Ng, a leading figure in the field who held an academic post at Stanford before leading research efforts at Google in the U.S. and Baidu in China. “Ill-advised policies can quickly squander this lead.”

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Category: Science