Senators push bipartisan AI bill for increased transparency, accountability
GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota last Wednesday unveiled bipartisan legislation – the Artificial Intelligence Research, Innovation, and Accountability Act of 2023 – that aims to establish basic safeguards surrounding the use of AI systems and tools.
The bill would provide definitions for different AI systems — including “critical impact” systems — and direct the Commerce Department to develop a five-year plan for testing and certifying critical-impact AI, per an overview from the lawmakers. Companies or organizations employing critical impact systems would be required to self-certify compliance with standards determined by the Commerce Department.
The legislation would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology to conduct research with the goal of creating guidelines for providing information on the authenticity and origin of online content. The bill would also require large internet platforms to let users know when they are interacting with content produced via generative AI.
Light-touch: In comments to Politico in September, Thune referred to the legislation as a “light-touch” approach to governing AI that avoids what he described as harmful, heavy-handed regulation. Last week, he explained that the bill was designed to help identify “basic rules of the road” to “protect consumers, foster an environment in which innovators and entrepreneurs can thrive, and limit government intervention.”
Congress, which is not exactly known for being particularly tech-savvy, has ramped up efforts over the past year to address the rapid development and expansion of AI. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has held a series “AI Insight Forums” aimed at educating lawmakers, for example.
Between challenges in understanding the technology and deeply entrenched political divisions, however, Congress seems unlikely to pass any major AI laws in the near future — particularly as the country enters an election year.