Lawmakers suggest agency to supervise artificial intelligence

File - Artist Refik Anadol poses in front of his work inside the Davos Congress Center in Davos, Switzerland Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. A new AI-generated installation — called “Unsupervised” —- by Anadol at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is meant to be a thought-provoking interpretation of the New York City museum's prestigious collection. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are floating ideas about guardrails for artificial intelligence as Congress considers how to confront the fast-moving technology that experts say could have profound implications.

Hearings last week offered a glimpse into lawmakers’ approach to artificial intelligence. The spurt of hearings on the subject came after the office of Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said last month that he had circulated a high-level framework that sketches out a regulatory regime on the technology.


The early indications are that both lawmakers and some industry representatives don’t want the government to stand on the sidelines as artificial intelligence advances.

They want government action, potentially including a federal agency to supervise artificial intelligence. Some lawmakers are at least partially motivated by liability protections afforded to internet companies, an approach some now consider a mistake.

“I can’t recall when we’ve had people representing large corporations or private sector entities come before us and plead with us to regulate them,” said Senate Judiciary Chair Richard J. Durbin at a Privacy, Technology and the Law Subcommittee hearing.

“In fact, many people in the Senate have based their careers on the opposite, that the economy will thrive if government gets the hell out of the way.”

Lawmakers are also grappling with the potential magnitude of AI, and the CEO of the artificial intelligence company OpenAI told the senators about his fear that the technology and the industry could “cause significant harm to the world.”

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