Leaders of some of the largest tech companies met in Washington D.C. for a hearing at the U.S. Senate, and have endorsed the idea of government regulation of AI. According to a report by the Associated Press, this agreement came during a closed-door meeting between lawmakers and tech executives.
Though this is a sign that there is a growing consistency that something has to be done, what that exactly entails is still up for debate. And even if there is some kind of agreement on what to do, it’s unlikely that both chambers of the U.S. Legislature will have ample time to push something through this year.
This came a week after the initial announcement that a new set of AI theme hearings would be held by each chamber. For the United States Senate, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, organized the private forum at the capital in part to help push some kind of legislation forward to help govern AI.
During the closed-door meeting, Senator Schumer asked the entire room, including tech executives present, if the government had a role when it came to the oversight of AI. According to the senator, even though the room was filled with a diverse group of people with diverse views, “every single person raised their hands, even though they had diverse views,”.
Present at the forum, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX said during a break in the forum, “The key point was really that we need to have a referee,…It was a very civilized discussion, actually, among some of the smartest people in the world.”.
For his part, Musk claimed earlier this summer that China was in the lead when it came to AI regulation as it had begun drafting and implementing a series of frameworks to govern AI. Of course, the senators aren’t required to take the advice of any person present at the forum, but it does show a growing interest in AI government, data privacy & data rights, and other AI-related issues.
On the importance of AI as an issue, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, said, “one of the most difficult issues we can ever take on,”. He points to how complex AI is, its dynamic nature, and the way it effect industries it is entering, and finally how it “has such a wide, broad effect across the whole world,”.
Fellow senator, Mike Rounds of South Dakota who led the meeting with Schumer said that Congress needed to get ahead of AI and ensure that it develops “on the positive side” while not sacrificing data transparency and privacy.
Rounds continued, “AI is not going away, and it can do some really good things or it can be a real challenge,”.