UPDATED 12:45 EDT / FEBRUARY 21 2024


US lawmakers form AI task force to develop safety policy

A bipartisan task force of lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives on artificial intelligence technology was established today under the direction of Republican Speaker Mike Johnson and Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

The objective of the new task force is to explore how Congress can determine how the U.S. can continue to lead the world in AI innovation while also maintaining safety with the emerging technology. Artificial intelligence has proved to be a powerful but complex endeavor with several emerging threats, including capabilities that allow for the spread of misinformation, malware and the creation of deepfakes.

The task force will also concern itself with the social adjustment that AI automation will bring to the economy as jobs are displaced by the new technological advances.

“Because advancements in artificial intelligence have the potential to rapidly transform our economy and our society, it is important for Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to understand and plan for both the promises and the complexities of this transformative technology,” said Johnson.

Johnson and Jeffries each appointed 12 members to the new task force to represent committees that will address policy measures. The group’s co-chairs are members of the House who have been vocal about AI, including Rep. Jay Obernolte, the oversight subcommittee chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and Rep. Ted Lieu, who is part of the House Judiciary Committee’s internet subcommittee.

This task force comes at a time when more regulations and laws have come to light attempting to clamp down on the safe use of AI. Including recent legislation, co-sponsored by Lieu, proposing that AI service providers that supply federal agencies manage risks associated with the technology. This follows an executive order signed by President Biden in October that established new guidelines for the development of AI, including rules for the industry, consumer protections and federal oversight.

Potential threats from AI technology have been advancing at a breakneck pace and regulators are moving to keep up with them. This month, the Federal Commutations Commission voted to outlaw AI-generated voices on robocalls to stop deepfake technologies that might scam individuals and mislead voters. This vote came after New Hampshire voters received a robocall featuring the AI-deepfaked voice of President Biden urging them not to vote in the primary election, prompting an investigation into the source.

Similarly, AI automation is likely to change the job landscape as workers see jobs replaced or altered by the new technology. A report from Goldman Sachs suggested that generative AI technology could significantly disrupt the global labor market, automating away 300 million jobs in the next decade. IBM Corp. Chief Executive Arvind Krishna said in May that hiring for non-customer-facing roles such as human resources and accounting would be paused or slowed over the next few years, potentially leading to losses of up to 7,800 jobs at the firm over the next five years due to AI.

“The rise of artificial intelligence presents a unique set of challenges and certain guardrails must be put in place to protect the American people,” said Jeffries. “Congress needs to work in a bipartisan way to ensure that America continues to lead in this emerging space, while also preventing bad actors from exploiting this evolving technology.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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