WATCH: Senate committee holds hearing on artificial intelligence and U.S. competitiveness

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The Senate Energy Committee held a hearing Thursday on advances in artificial intelligence and U.S. technological competitiveness.

Watch the hearing in the player above.

The hearing addressed several topics connected to the emerging technology, including the use of AI on battlefields, in medical laboratories and to combat disasters and security threats. The committee also looked at the increasing risks AI poses to safety, privacy, civil rights, democracy and the economy.

“AI has the potential to add trillions of dollars into the world economy each year. Governments and companies around the world are competing fiercely in this new market,” said committee chairman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in his opening statement. “In particular, America must accelerate our efforts to compete with and defend against China on AI.”

READ MORE: Visual artists fight back against artificial intelligence companies for repurposing their work

Among the participating speakers, Argonne National Laboratory Associate Laboratory Director Rick Stevens believes the technology can also be a potentially useful tool in scientific research and productivity.

“AI is a tool for the mind. An amplifier of thought, a super-smart assistant, and perhaps someday soon, a powerful concierge for nearly all aspects of life and work,” he said.

He also expressed caution in the use and distribution of the technology, especially if it falls into the wrong hands.

“A small group working in secret with sufficiently powerful AI tools could develop a novel chemical, biological, or cyber threat. We will need to transform how we manage the risks posed by bad actors using the same AI tools we are using to improve science and advance society,” Stevens said.

The hearing  also included Center for Security and Emerging Technology Senior Fellow Anna Puglisi, and Hewlett Packard Labs and HPC & AI Advanced Development Vice President Andrew Wheeler.

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