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How Can Immigration Reforms Boost US Leadership in AI Technology?

TL;DR Breakdown

  • Immigrants play a dominant role in driving AI innovation in the United States, 77% of top AI companies having immigrant founders.

  • Immigration reforms help advance U.S. leadership in AI as immigrants help drive innovation, improve entrepreneurship, and create jobs.

  • The diversity of immigrant founders from various countries highlights the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping the AI landscape.

New research highlights the significant role played by immigrant founders in fueling artificial intelligence (AI) development in the United States. Welcoming immigration policies are seen as essential for advancing U.S. leadership in AI technology and other technology fields. The study reveals that immigrants have founded or co-founded a majority of the top AI companies in the country, emphasizing the importance of diverse talent in driving innovation.

According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), nearly two-thirds (65%) of the top AI companies in the U.S. have immigrant founders or co-founders. Furthermore, 77% of the leading U.S.-based AI companies were either founded or co-founded by immigrants or their children. The research, conducted through interviews and data collection from the Forbes AI 50 list, showcases the critical role immigrants play in shaping the AI landscape.

Diverse origins of immigrant entrepreneurs

The study highlights considerable diversity among immigrant entrepreneurs in the top AI companies, with founders hailing from 21 different countries. Indian immigrants have a prominent presence, founding 10 of the top U.S.-based AI companies. Israel and the United Kingdom follow closely with three each, while Canada, China, and France have two each. Immigrants from Brazil, Poland, Iran, Mexico, Kenya, Taiwan, Lebanon, Colombia, Chile, Syria, Argentina, and other countries have also founded or co-founded leading U.S. AI companies.

Source: National Foundation for American Policy; NFAP analysis of 2023 Forbes AI 50; Company sources, LinkedIn. Employees as of April 2023. Get the data

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, in its final report, recommended the enactment of immigration reforms to secure America’s leadership in AI. The proposed reforms include the creation of a startup visa and a significant expansion of high-skilled temporary visas and employment-based green cards. The commission emphasizes the value of highly skilled immigrants in accelerating innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, and job creation.

Promoting diversity and innovation in AI

The collaboration between U.S.-born and foreign-born talent is exemplified by companies like OpenAI. With founders from various countries, OpenAI showcases the power of diverse perspectives in creating cutting-edge technologies. The company’s notable achievement includes the integration of its chatbot ChatGPT into the Bing search engine. The positive impact of large language models and generative AI is anticipated, with experts believing that these technologies will significantly enhance productivity.

Immigrant-founded AI companies in the United States are involved in a wide range of products and services. Pachama, founded by immigrants from Argentina, utilizes AI and satellite data to estimate carbon stored in forests, contributing to climate change mitigation. Databricks, with a multinational team of founders, offers analytics and data storage solutions and employs 5,000 individuals. Additionally, companies like, Bloomreach, Clari, FarmWise, Canvas, Insitro, and leverage AI for talent management, e-commerce, sales, agriculture, construction, drug discovery, and medical diagnostics, respectively.

Embracing immigration to drive AI innovation

To foster continued progress in AI, it is crucial to recognize the vital role immigrants play in driving innovation. By embracing immigration policies that welcome and support talented individuals from around the world, the United States can maintain its competitive edge and strengthen its leadership in AI and other transformative technologies. The impact of generative AI is anticipated to be immense, increasing productivity levels and driving future productivity growth.

The research underscores the significant contribution of immigrant founders to the development of AI in the United States. The presence of diverse perspectives and talents in AI companies has been instrumental in driving innovation and advancing the field. To ensure continued leadership in AI, it is imperative to enact immigration reforms that attract and retain highly skilled individuals. By embracing immigration and supporting the collaboration of U.S.-born and foreign-born talent, the United States can solidify its position as a global AI powerhouse.

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