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  • Wednesday, December 09, 2020

    Boys State Governor Writes Artificial Intelligence Legislation Passed by Congress

    2018-2019 Commander Gary Schacher and Nathan Wang

    2018-2019 Department of New York Commander Gary Schacher congratulates Nathan Wang on being elected Boys State governor.

    One might say Shuang Heng “Nathan” Wang has a passion for artificial intelligence (AI).

    It was the centerpiece of his campaign platform at the 2019 session of New York’s Boys State at SUNY Morrisville. It fueled his election as Boys State governor and propelled him to Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. While there he got to visit the office of Congressman Paul Tanko, D-Amsterdam, and he couldn’t resist handing over his proposed AI education legislation.

    He thought they would take one look at it and toss it in the waste basket, Nathan told Albany Times-Union regional correspondent Emilie Munson. “But to his surprise, Wang got a call from a legislative aide a month later asking for a meeting.”

    The congressman turned Wang’s idea into a bill, and members of Congress included it in the annual defense bill, the T-U reported. The legislation directs the National Science Foundation to offer grants to schools and other organizations to increase access to artificial intelligence education for K-12 students. The bill also expands eligibility for scholarships for college undergraduates in science, technology, math and engineering if they go into K-12 education.

    (The U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Acton Dec. 8 by a vote of 335 – 78. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next. President Donald J. Trump is threatening to veto the defense bill because it does not contain a provision he’s seeking to eliminate liability protections for social media companies for content and speech on their sites. Lawmakers say they may have enough votes to override a veto.)

    The T-U correspondent explained how the idea for his AI education bill was born:

    “Wang took calculus as a freshman in high school at Hudson Valley Community College and progressed into multi-variable calculus courses and other mathematics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As he learned more about artificial intelligence, Wang realized other students did not need so much advanced calculus to understand the basics of artificial intelligence and appreciate its applications – or even to develop their own uses of it.”

    Wang, who was a student at Shaker High School in Latham in 2019, was sponsored to Boys State by Albany’s Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520. He is now a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, studying biomedical engineering and applied mathematics remotely from his Latham home