WASHINGTON November 9, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it will be investing more than $1.2 billion through a combination of loans and grants to support cooperatives throughout rural America and Puerto Rico.
The funding announced will go toward supporting a total of 112 projects, which range from supporting farming cooperatives to helping expand electrical facilities in more remote areas.
The money will be administered through a sub-series of funding programs such as the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.
“Cooperatives serve as one of our most important partners in delivering critical goods and services to rural communities and is central to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“For more than a century, the cooperative business model has been integral to rural advancement and the American economy, and today accounts for more than two million jobs across the country. The investments we are announcing today will ensure that cooperatives continue the important work of serving the unique needs of their communities, filling market gaps and building local wealth and opportunities for connection across rural America,” he added.
Public Knowledge says AI regulation must have privacy legislation in place
Chris Lewis, the CEO of internet advocate Public Knowledge, urged Congress in a testimony Wednesday to pass federal privacy legislation to advance artificial intelligence regulation.
The American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which has been supported by other public interest groups such as Communication Workers for America and Free Press Action, broadly aims to minimize data collected on constituents and prevent harmful use of that data by restricting engagement with said data.
“We know that AI has the potential to transform society for the better; but that can only happen if an appropriate regulatory framework is in place. The first step of that framework should be to enact a comprehensive federal privacy law,” said Lewis at the Senate’s bipartisan AI Insights Forum on privacy and liability, which brought together a collection of industry experts to discuss the future of applied artificial intelligence.
There have been several regulatory suggestions for AI regulation that emerged from government officials, and a sweeping AI executive order which was signed into effect by President Joe Biden late October.
That executive order hopes to establish some sort of standardization for the creation and implementation of artificial intelligence technology and will require manufacturers to report AI testing procedures to the government.
Robotext numbers are up, October report says
Robokiller Insights, a software company that aims to limit spam calls and texts, published a report Thursday claiming that robotexts totaled 78 billion for the first half of 2023 which they note is higher than last year.
The report claimed that for the first half of 2022 robotext numbers were at 66 billion and attributed the increase in texts this year to them being an easier alternative for scammers than robocalls, which the Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on.
Efforts by the FCC to reduce robocall and robotext activity have been met by experts calling on federal agencies to do even more.
In March of this year the FCC voted to implement a more stringent regulatory framework for providers to prevent robocalls and texts from going through to consumers, which called for the use of authentication standards.
That authentication framework which took effect December 2021 was voted in favor of to maximize the number of authenticated calls going out to constituents.
More recently in October, FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed the concept of using AI to mitigate robocalls and robotexts, which would use machine learning to detect fraudulent messages before they reach consumers.
In keeping with their effort to not only reform robocall regulations but to crackdown on fining robocall activity, the FCC more recently issued a fine to Dorsher Enterprise, a group of parties who made nearly 10 million robocalls which racked up fines for customers.