US Legislators and American Tech Companies Beg For AI Regulation
Category Artificial Intelligence Wednesday - May 24 2023, 06:37 UTC - 9 months ago US Legislators and American Tech Companies are begging for the creation of a new agency to regulate AI, with pre-ChatGPT Algorithmic Accountability Act proposed to address the tangible harms of automated decision making systems, ADPPA to regulate data collection and processing, a Digital Platform Commission Act also proposed to protect data, and a new digital regulator in the Senate for policing and licensing social media companies.
Wednesday - May 24 2023, 06:37 UTC - 9 months ago
US Legislators and American Tech Companies are begging for the creation of a new agency to regulate AI, with pre-ChatGPT Algorithmic Accountability Act proposed to address the tangible harms of automated decision making systems, ADPPA to regulate data collection and processing, a Digital Platform Commission Act also proposed to protect data, and a new digital regulator in the Senate for policing and licensing social media companies.
It feels as though a switch has turned on in AI policy. For years, US legislators and American tech companies were reluctant to introduce—if not outright against—strict technology regulation. Now both have started begging for it.
Last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman appeared before a US Senate committee to talk about the risks and potential of AI language models. Altman, along with many senators, called for international standards for artificial intelligence. He also urged the US to regulate the technology and set up a new agency, much like the Food and Drug Administration, to regulate AI."To suggest that Congress starts from zero just plays into the industry's favorite narrative, which is that Congress is so far behind and doesn’t understand technology—how could they ever regulate us?" says Anna Lenhart, a policy fellow at the Institute for Data Democracy and Policy at George Washington University, and a former Hill staffer.
Here are a few to keep an eye on.
Algorithmic Accountability Act .
This bill was introduced by Democrats in the US Congress and Senate in 2022, pre-ChatGPT, to address the tangible harms of automated decision-making systems, such as ones that denied people pain medications or rejected their mortgage applications.
The bill would require companies to do algorithmic impact and risk assessments, says Lenhart. It would also put the Federal Trade Commission in charge of regulating and enforcing rules around AI, and boost its staff numbers.
This bipartisan bill was an attempt to regulate how companies collect and process data. It gained lots of momentum as a way to help women keep their personal health data safe after Roe v. Wade was overturned, but it failed to pass in time. The debate around the risks of generative AI could give it the added urgency to go further than last time. ADPPA would ban generative AI companies from collecting, processing, or transfering data in a discriminatory way. It would also give users more control over how companies use their data.
An AI agency .
During the hearing, Altman and several senators suggested we need a new US agency to regulate AI. But I think this is a bit of a red herring. The US government needs more technical expertise and resources to regulate the tech, whether it be in a new agency or in a revamped existing one, Lenhart says. And more importantly, any regulator, new or old, needs the power to enforce the laws.
"It’s easy to create an agency and not give it any powers," Lenhart says.
Democrats have tried to set up new protections with the Digital Platform Commission Act, the Data Protection Act, and the Online Privacy Act. But these attempts have failed, as most US bills without bipartisan support are doomed to do.
What’s next? .
Another tech-focused agency is likely on the way. Senators Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, are working together to create a new digital regulator that might also have the power to police and perhaps license social media companies.
Democrat Chuck Schumer is also rallying the troops in the Senate to introduce a new bill that would tackle AI harms specifically. He has gathered bipartisan support towards the bill, which won't be introduced until later this summer.