Congress plans to tackle AI in 2024 in ‘bite-sized’ pieces

The phrase “artificial intelligence” might make you think of science fiction movies. In today’s reality, it’s not quite there yet, but the government recognizes the possibilities and pitfalls of the future of AI.

“We need to be the leaders in the international community. And we have the opportunity, we’re there now,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican.

Lawmakers don’t want to make the same mistake they did with social media by not acting soon enough, and then watching the platforms grow with little oversight.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, says AI is an “enormously challenging” issue. And while he doesn’t think comprehensive legislation is in the near future, he believes Congress can tackle “bite-sized” pieces.

“A lot of the big tech companies say they don’t mind regulation, but when you put paper to pencil and actually write legislation, they always find a reason to be against it. So I thought starting with undermining trust in public markets just made sense. From a practical standpoint, if we get one thing done, I think it can lead to the others,” said Warner.

Another piece — artificial intelligence and elections. With 2024 looming, lawmakers see it as a top priority.

“There’s the issue of actually having deep fakes where people really believe that somebody that a candidate is saying something when they were totally a creation of AI,” said Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer.

And AI-generated videos are already being used on the campaign trail, including one from the Republican National Committee.

Beyond elections and the financial system, Warner thinks national security should be a top priority.

“As chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I’m working on bipartisan legislation about how we use AI in our intelligence domain, but also how we use it in a responsible way. And I hope to be able to unveil legislation in January,” said Warner.

Schumer hosted nine AI Insight forums this year to help senators better understand the benefits and the risks that come with AI. Now it’s up to lawmakers to apply what they learned as they try to write legislation in 2024.

U.S. lawmakers aren’t the only ones worried about the impact of artificial intelligence. Pope Francis has called for an international treaty to make sure the technology is developed and used ethically. And earlier this month, the European Union announced the world’s first comprehensive artificial intelligence rules.