Senate AI Roadmap Educates Congress, Leaves Key Questions Open
Senate AI Roadmap Educates Congress, Leaves Key Questions Open
Senate AI Roadmap Educates Congress, Leaves Key Questions Open

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    Today, the bipartisan Senate AI Working Group published an artificial intelligence roadmap based on their series of AI Insight Forums held over the last year. Public Knowledge President and CEO Chris Lewis testified before the AI Insights Forum focused on privacy, urging Congress to establish a regulatory framework – including a comprehensive federal privacy law – to ensure that AI transforms society for the better. 

    Public Knowledge acknowledges the importance of the Insight Forums in educating policymakers about artificial intelligence and the effort by the Working Group to find consensus views. However, Public Knowledge remains concerned about the balance that legislation will strike as a result of the roadmap, which de-emphasizes or is silent on key public interest values.

    The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, President and CEO of Public Knowledge:

    “The Senate AI Working Group’s Insight Forums process has produced an important document, the AI Roadmap, but we also hope the process has produced senators who are more informed about the threats and opportunities that AI presents. The education part of this process is incredibly important for two reasons. First, artificial intelligence is still developing and evolving. A baseline of knowledge is critical to avoid policy mistakes about the current technology, let alone where it will be in future years. Second, the Insight Forums and the roadmap both demonstrated that there are many competing viewpoints about artificial intelligence. A baseline of knowledge is important to see what values are prioritized and what are left out in this high-level consensus document.

    “The roadmap highlights eight important areas for immediate action that reflect some key public interest values. First and foremost, it is critical that the roadmap lifts up the importance of fighting well-documented existing harms, including bias and discrimination that are amplified by poorly designed, or poorly used, artificial intelligence, as well as the labor challenges that arise from introducing AI into industry. Along with the threat of the spread of disinformation and its impact on democratic institutions, these existing harms have the power to unravel our society. The public must remain vigilant to ensure that subsequent legislation adequately addresses these harms. We are also glad to see support for a comprehensive privacy law in the roadmap, a baseline protection that is required for AI and platforms that use AI to have the trust of their users. Finally, we appreciate the emphasis on the threat of deepfakes, going beyond the impact on public figures to the average person. Everyone’s name, image, and likeness must remain protected, especially from the threat of non-consensual intimate imagery.

    “The roadmap unfortunately does not adequately address or is silent on three important issues that support key public interest values. First, the roadmap does not sufficiently ensure competition in this evolving marketplace. Public Knowledge supports the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource, or NAIRR, to promote research and innovation, but more is needed to ensure that the gatekeeper power of Big Data, computing power, and network effects do not lock in early innovators as dominant AI monopolies. Other kinds of public investment in lowering barriers to entry must be studied and created, including the possibility of Public AI systems. Regulatory action to prevent self preferencing and other anticompetitive business practices are also needed. Second, there is no mention in the roadmap of the importance of protecting fair use under copyright law in AI and digital markets, which is critical for protecting equity and creativity online. Third, the roadmap does not present a vision for sustainable oversight and accountability of artificial intelligence. Public Knowledge has long advocated for an expert digital regulator empowered to protect the public interest and with the expertise and authority to regulate the development of artificial intelligence and other digital platforms as they evolve.

    “With further analysis of the roadmap, we look forward to continuing to work with senators to address this evolving technology and key public issues as AI is used increasingly in many parts of our lives. We encourage the public to remain vigilant as legislation rapidly moves forward and demand that all public interest values are considered alongside the wave of industry lobbyists working to shape the future regulatory posture of our government.”

    You may view our AI resources page for more information on our work to support AI policies that benefit the public.

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