By Elizabeth Elkind. Media: Fox News.
Lawmakers in the highly-polarized 118th Congress appear to be finding some common ground with regard to artificial intelligence (AI). Several have indicated they would like to see some kind of regulation to rein in the fast-moving sector on the heels of a stunning warning from tech industry leaders.
“I think what you have to do is, to identify what is not allowed in terms of ethics and illegal activities, whether it is AI or not – you impose on AI activities the same level of ethics and privacy that you do for other competencies today,” Sen. Mike Rounds, a leader of the Senate AI Caucus, told Fox News Digital.
Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters, D-Mich., pointed out to Fox News Digital that his committee had recently held a hearing on the “pros and cons” of AI technology.
“I intend to have a series of hearings in Homeland Security and Government Affairs taking up AI and what we should be thinking about,” Peters added.
It comes on the heels of a dramatic letter signed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and other tech giants calling for a six-month pause to advanced AI developments, citing “profound risks to society and humanity.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who sent a letter to tech company leaders last week calling for them to consider the safety of children when rolling out AI systems such as chatbots, suggested that an agency could be created to regulate the relatively restriction-free AI industry “in the long term.” For now, however, the senator said these companies have to police themselves.
“I think we do have a role to play,” he said when asked if Congress should step in to regulate AI. “In the long run, I think what we could do is set up, you know, an agency here. They can negotiate on behalf of the American people, so we can actually have a negotiation about privacy… In the near term, I think it’s going to be important for tech to police itself.”
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, shared a similar suggestion, pointing out that he co-led legislation in the previous Congress aimed at enacting more barriers on AI’s growth.
“Congress has to sink its teeth into what to do about it. We’ve worked with [Retired Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio] to establish a law for AI, a commission for AI in government,” Schatz told Fox News Digital. “I think we should do something broader for AI throughout the private sector. But I think the first step is to recognize that this is a legitimate area for federal policy.”
However, in his earlier comments, Rounds questioned whether existing laws were enough to cover the fast-moving sector.
“So if you’re in a business, you know that there are certain rules you can’t break,” Rounds said. “Those same things need to be applied to AI. The question is, do we have the appropriate language in the law today to address the things that AI might create, that we haven’t thought about in our existing law?”
Over on the House side, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a leader in the efforts to crack down on Big Tech, also urged Congress to take the reins.
“With the emergence of AI comes both opportunity and challenges. We have seen the impact and consequences of a decade of inaction on Big Tech. Congress cannot afford to be caught sleeping at the wheel again. AI has great promise but left unscrutinized could be used to spread propaganda, dangerously restructure our economy, and increase the size of current Big Tech monopolies,” Buck told Fox News Digital.
Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, however, broke from his Senate colleagues to caution them to not rush into action before understanding the complicated technology.
“It’s way too early to say what role Congress should take. I think right now, we need to understand this a little bit better. And, you know, look –we’re in the very early days of this process,” Vance said. “So I wouldn’t want to commit to a congressional strategy before we even understand the problem.”
Elizabeth Elkind is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital.