Debt ceiling drama continues: Biden and McCarthy meet again – National & International News – TUE 16May2023


Debt ceiling drama continues: Biden and McCarthy meet again.

OpenAI CEO embraces government regulation of artificial intelligence.

Chinese official vows to “smash” Taiwan independence, setting stage for confrontation with US. 



Debt ceiling drama continues: Biden and McCarthy meet again

President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met at the White House for a second time today to discuss raising the debt ceiling. McCarthy and the Congressional Republicans are demanding steep federal spending cuts in exchange for performing their Constitutional duty to preserve the good faith and credit of the United States.

A meeting last week between Biden, McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries reportedly made little headway. But pressure is building in both camps to reach some sort of agreement everyone can live with. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that the US could run out of funds to pay its debts as soon as June 1. Today, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced they believe default could happen in the first two weeks of June if there’s no agreement.

Default would be disastrous for every American, but especially for retirees and others on fixed incomes. Yellen as said even a brief default would likely tip the US into a recession. Analysts have also shown that even a brief default could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, while a protracted default would cost us millions of jobs. Mississippi would be among the worst affected states and could see unemployment spike to 9.2% in a protracted default.

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OpenAI CEO embraces government regulation of artificial intelligence

The Senate is currently holding hearings about the potential benefits and threats that could arise from the proliferation of artificial intelligence in various sectors and industries. There has been much public discussion of this topic among both policymakers and industry leaders in recent years. The urgency of this discussion has reached a crescendo with the emergence and widespread popularity of AI apps like ChatGPT.

Various groups have raised questions about the potential impact of AI in everything from schoolwork, to labor markets (including the current strike by film and television writers), to banking, to personal and national security. Some technologists are also concerned about what will happen when AI is used to conduct or produce research and whether or not the information it produces will be trustworthy.

There have even been calls for a 6-month pause on further work in developing AI to give political and industry leaders time to examine the implications. The Senate is now holding hearings to debate what, if any, role Congress should play in regulating the use of AI.

Altman wows Senators

Today, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI which runs Chat GPT, testified before Congress that he and others in his field would welcome regulations by Congress, acknowledging the need for guardrails in the industry. Unlike other Congressional appearances from tech entrepreneurs and CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Shou Zi Chew of TikTok, which were at times openly hostile, Altman’s appearance and presentation seems to have favorably impressed lawmakers. Altman produced a 60-minute presentation on the subject ahead of the hearing and stayed for two hours answering Senators’ questions.

As a first step, Altman recommended that Congress consider a licensing and vetting process for the development of AI. This would allow the government both to monitor AI’s use and set quality controls. This would be a first-of-its-kind regulatory move for AI. However, it’s difficult to see how the government can get out ahead of what’s coming in this rapidly-developing field.

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Chinese official vows to “smash” Taiwan independence, setting stage for confrontation with US

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Col. Tan Kefei described increasing cooperation between the US and Taiwanese militaries as an “extremely wrong and dangerous move”. Over the last several years, the US has been providing more and more weapons and other defensive support to Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade Chinese territory. The US is now apparently increasing its deliveries of defensive weapons systems to Taiwan in defiance of China’s claims to the island.

Tan said that China’s People’s Liberation Army “continues to strengthen military training and preparations and will resolutely smash any form of Taiwanese independence secession along with attempts at outside interference”. 

Official US policy recognizes Taiwan as a Chinese territory but says any political reunification between Taiwan and Mainland China should be peaceful. US law obliges the US to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself in the event of a Chinese military invasion. However, the US is also bulking up its naval presence in the South China Sea where Taiwan is located, ostensibly to encounter “Chinese expansionism” and its encroachment on the maritime territories of other South Asian nations.

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