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Senate Republican conference chairman John Barrasso has sent a letter to the Energy Department demanding an end to its artificial intelligence research collaborations with Chinese state-linked individuals. He criticized Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for engaging with people and entities tied to the Chinese Communist Party and called for a vetting process to prevent those friendly to the CCP from gaining access to DOE-created AI foundation models. Barrasso cited concerns raised by a National Science Foundation report about the risks of collaborating with Chinese research organizations and pointed to a recent case of a Chinese national being indicted for stealing confidential files about Google’s AI technology.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has emphasized the lengths to which affiliates of Chinese companies are willing to go to steal American innovation, including the recent case of the Chinese national stealing Google’s AI technology. The Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General has drawn attention to the lack of funding for oversight of high-risk areas, including intellectual property theft and the expanding artificial intelligence program. Barrasso has raised concerns about US taxpayer-funded work with China on climate issues and the lack of counterintelligence measures within DOE and its National Laboratories.

Barrasso highlighted his criticisms of four Energy Department meetings on climate in Chinese media outlets, one of which involved a known member of the CCP’s main foreign influence arm. He expressed disappointment in the lack of response from Granholm to his inquiries about the meetings, the reassignment of DOE’s Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, and other related concerns. Barrasso emphasized the need for the Energy Department to clarify its strategy for managing the AI race with China and address ongoing security risks posed by research collaborations.

Barrasso has set a deadline of April 8 for Granholm to provide clarification on the department’s approach to the AI race with China and other security challenges posed by research collaborations. He expressed frustration with the lack of response from the Energy Department to his previous inquiries and criticized their claims that engagement with China would enhance America’s national security. The Post has reached out to the Energy Department for comment on the situation.

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