AI Policy Levers: A Review of the U.S. Government’s Tools to Shape AI Research, Development, and Deployment

The U.S. government (USG) has taken increasing interest in the national security implications of artificial intelligence (AI). In this report, we ask: Given its national security concerns, how might the USG attempt to influence AI research, development, and deployment—both within the U.S. and abroad? We provide an accessible overview of some of the USG’s policy levers within the current legal framework. For each lever, we describe its origin and legislative basis as well as its past and current uses; we then assess the plausibility of its future application to AI technologies. In descending order of likelihood of use for explicit national security purposes, we cover the following policy levers: federal R&D spending, foreign investment restrictions, export controls, visa vetting, extended visa pathways, secrecy orders, prepublication screening procedures, the Defense Production Act, antitrust enforcement, and the “born secret doctrine.”

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