Silicon Valley congressman tours computer chip facility
Applied Materials President and CEO Gary Dickerson and U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna talk outside of the Applied Materials Maydan Technology Center in Sunnyvale on Aug. 1, 2023. Photo by Julia Forrest.

    Silicon Valley has long been at the forefront of next generation technology from microprocessors and integrated circuits, to cutting-edge software and internet companies that have changed the global landscape. One Silicon Valley congressmember doesn’t want his region to lose that edge.

    Rep. Ro Khanna stopped in Sunnyvale on Tuesday to tour Applied Materials, a semiconductor manufacturer. He met with CEO Gary Dickerson to discuss artificial intelligence and how the manufacturer will apply the federal funding it receives from the CHIPS Act, a $52 billion piece of legislation co-written by Khanna that passed in 2022.

    Applied Materials announced in May it plans to invest up to $4 billion over the next seven years in the construction of a research facility near Santa Clara that would enable chip makers and universities to work together on semiconductor products. A portion of the investment will be funded by federal subsidiaries. The project is expected to create about 2,000 jobs.

    “I’m very proud that our district is going to really lead in making sure America is the world leader in semiconductors,” Khanna told San José Spotlight.

    Dickerson said becoming a leader in semiconductor manufacturing requires various perspectives coming together. He also said using AI will be critical in retaining its top-tier status in the semiconductor sector.

    “We absolutely are using AI in a number of different areas,” Dickerson told San José Spotlight. “The magic that creates semiconductor leadership is incredibly complex and getting even more complex in the future. So AI technologies are absolutely essential for innovating faster.”

    Outspoken on AI

    Khanna’s visit follows his first bill using ChatGPT in July, showing his continued effort to prioritize legislation that addresses technology and concerns in applying AI. The bill would mandate the U.S. Office of Management and Budget release guidance on how federal agencies could utilize AI in website search functions.

    “It shows what AI can do,” Khanna said. “It’s a tool. But ultimately, you need human beings with judgment, with creativity, with insight to use that tool to be productive.”

    Khanna and a handful of other lawmakers have used ChatGPT to drafts speeches, opinion articles and bills. Lawmakers are allowed to use ChatGPT Plus, a paid version with added security features. They are only allowed to use it for non-sensitive information.

    This also comes as San Jose released its first set of employee guidelines last week for generative AI. The move to adopt guidelines in San Jose follows a 2023 report by the Brookings Institution, a D.C. based think tank, that shows San Jose and the Bay Area have become the nationwide hub for the AI industry.

    Khanna acknowledged AI might replace some jobs, but that it will also open up new opportunities for people. He said the challenge for the United States will be how to ensure younger generations are comfortable with using AI to allow for new and more productive opportunities.

    “It’s going to be important to make sure that AI is used in ways that help people and not disruptive ways,” Khanna said.

    Contact Julia Forrest at [email protected] or follow @juliaforrest35 on Twitter.

    Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

    Leave a Reply