Lawmakers introduce bipartisan AI legislation

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan AI legislation
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate on Tuesday aimed at bolstering the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

The Fundamentally Understanding the Usability and Realistic Evolution of Artificial Intelligence Act of 2017 — or FUTURE of AI Act — aims to both ensure the U.S.’s global competitiveness in AI, as well as protect the public’s civil liberties and ease potential unemployment that the technology produces.

“While artificial intelligence holds the promise of providing goods and services more efficiently and effectively, increased automation has potentially broad negative impacts on our workforce and our privacy,” explained Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMarkey challenges Democratic Senate campaign opponents to climate change debate Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey Markey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge MORE (D-Mass.).

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“This bill serves as an important step in bringing together all stakeholders to better understand how this new technology will impact our lives,” he continued.

Markey co-sponsored the Senate legislation along with fellow Senate Commerce Committee member Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' MORE (D-Wash.), who spearheaded the legislation, and Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (R-Ind.)

AI Caucus co-chairmen Reps. John DelaneyJohn Kevin Delaney2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Analysis: 2020 digital spending vastly outpaces TV ads MORE (D-Md.) and Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Texas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state Texas faces turbulent political moment MORE (R-Texas) sponsored the House version of the legislation.

Senate Commerce member Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzSenate Democrats accuse administration of burying climate change reports Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Whistleblower complaint concerns Trump talk with foreign leader: report MORE (D-Hawaii) also announced on Tuesday that he would be introducing his own legislation on the matter. While largely similar to Cantwell and company’s bill, Schatz’s differs in that it would create an independent commission to focus on helping agencies that currently address AI, as opposed to the federal advisory committee appointed by Senate Commerce as Cantwell proposes.

The new bills come the same day as the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing regarding the advancement of AI.

During the testimony, experts and lawmakers expressed concern over other countries developing government initiatives to bolster AI technology, something the U.S. currently lacks.

“When it comes to AI, successfully integrating this technology into U.S. industries should be the primary goal of policymakers, and given the rapid pace at which other countries are pursuing this goal, the United States cannot afford to rest on its laurels,” said Daniel Castro, vice president at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses on tech issues.

“To date, the U.S. government has not declared its intent to remain globally dominant in this field, nor has it begun the even harder task of developing a strategy to achieve that vision,” he added.

“Federal funding for AI research and development has been relatively flat, even as the importance of the field has dramatically increased,” added Edward Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, who also testified before Senate Commerce on Tuesday.