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 MarkeyClimate hedgehogs and foxes Overnight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run AOC's green deal isn't new — it's been a flop in Germany 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 CantwellSenate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks White House poised to take action on AI, 5G Overnight Energy: States press Trump on pollution rules | EPA puts climate skeptic on science board | Senate tees up vote on federal lands bill MORE (D-Wash.), who spearheaded the legislation, and Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungIndiana gets first national park Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Trade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal MORE (R-Ind.)

AI Caucus co-chairmen Reps. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyGabbard cites ‘concerns’ about ‘vagueness’ of Green New Deal Delaney: ‘We should not put up a candidate who embraces socialism’ Delaney: 2020 Dem primary a choice between socialism and a 'more just' form of capitalism MORE (D-Md.) and Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race House Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 MORE (R-Texas) sponsored the House version of the legislation.

Senate Commerce member Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Trump defends using DOD funds on border wall: 'Some of the generals think that this is more important' 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.