Epistemic status: Highly uncertain in terms of why it is important, but fairly confident that it is important for guarding against unaligned AI/other emerging threats.
The U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) seeks to form a partnership (AI/ET Partnership) with the AI and ET communities, per a recent Notice in the Federal Register. The inaugural Partnership meeting will be held virtually on June 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET (register here).
This partnership will include, for example, academia, independent inventors, small businesses, industry, other government agencies, nonprofits, and civil society. The main purpose of this partnership is to discuss issues around intellectual property (IP) policy.
IP policy and law is likely to be important for AI and other emerging tech policies that EAs care about moving forward (see, e.g., here and here). For example, IP or patent policy could ultimately determine who is able to control AI -- or if AI creates a thing does the person who created the AI get the right to IP or does the AI, or is it a public good? This seems important to figure out and at least be involved in the conversation, because it will happen with or without EA orgs, and I'd prefer EA voices to be in the room. There are likely be similar bio-related IP issues, so the partnership doesn't need to be explicitly related to AI. If nothing else, I think the function of EA orgs being involved in the conversation is pushing back about some of the things industry might say and trying to steer the conversation towards safety.
The AI/ET Partnership will commence with a series of meetings exploring AI/ET-related initiatives at the USPTO and IP policy issues impacted by AI and other ET. Further information on the AI/ET Partnership, future events, and participation in these events is available on the AI/ET Partnership web page at www.uspto.gov/aipartnership.
The AI/ET Partnership will begin with a series of virtual events, with the inaugural event exploring various patent policy issues including subject matter eligibility, inventorship, and disclosure practice.
P.S. I'm not attempting to assert that being in the conversation for this particular partnership would in and of itself be valuable, but it may be valuable in addition to other moves to establish a greater DC presence and DC reputability in addition to being a countering voice in the room. Participating in things like this can make the org come to mind for when an agency is seeking to make a reg and engage with stakeholders beforehand.