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Schumer leads effort to smarten up Senate on AI
The Senate Democratic Leader and a bipartisan trio of senators announced a 3-part series of briefings to deepen the institution’s expertise as lawmakers grapple with how to regulate the technology.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Congress has earned a notorious reputation for dragging its feet in response to the impact of consumer technology on our work lives. But when it comes to artificial intelligence, a group of senators, led by Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, feel a sense of urgency to deepen the institution’s expertise as lawmakers grapple with how to regulate it.
Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Republican Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Todd Young of Indiana, and Schumer announced on Tuesday in a letter to the Senate a three-part series of private briefings on artificial intelligence in the next few weeks to consider the benefits and risks of the technology.
The first briefing will focus on the current state of AI, followed by one about where AI is headed in the future and how the US can stay at the forefront of innovation. The series will culminate in a classified briefing on how adversaries will use AI against the US and how defense and intelligence agencies will use AI to keep Americans safe.
“These all-Senate briefings are important because elected representatives in the twenty-first century cannot ignore AI any more than we can ignore national security, job creation, or our civil liberties,” Schumer said in a floor speech. “AI will permanently impact all these things and more.”
Aside from confirming judges to the federal bench, leading Congress’s efforts to pass comprehensive bipartisan AI regulation has risen as Schumer’s top legislative priority. In part, it’s due to the urgency the sprawling technology requires from your leaders. But it’s also the result of a divided government too polarized to get some of the big things done we saw in the first two years of the Biden administration when Democrats had a trifecta.
In April, Schumer announced a broad regulatory framework to prevent AI from damaging the US while making sure America advances and leads the sector’s innovation. He also met with Twitter and Tesla owner Elon Musk that same month to discuss AI.
The White House has centered AI regulation in its agenda as well.
Last fall, the administration released the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights to outline the values the US must advance and the rights the government must protect.
“It’s an important anchor and roadmap,” a senior administration official said.
The White House also released a framework to give companies, policymakers, and creators building AI products and services clarity on how to mitigate risks.
Vice President Kamala Harris and a group of White House officials last month met with the CEOs of OpenAI, Anthropic, Microsoft, and Google’s parent company Alphabet to share the administration's concerns about these associated risks.
And prior to the meeting, the administration announced an additional $140 million investment to stand up seven new National AI research Institutes to bring the total to 25 across the country, with half a billion dollars of funding to support responsible innovation that advances the public good. Additionally, four enforcement agencies reiterated their commitment to applying existing authorities to protect people and hold companies accountable.
“Tech companies have a fundamental responsibility to make sure their products are safe and secure and that they protect people’s rights before they’re deployed or made public,” the official said. But without in a broadly unregulated industry, it’s hard to see why big corporations would view this as little more than lip service.
The White House believes it can set an example though: In the coming months, the Office of Management and Budget will issue clear policy guidance on the use of AI by the federal government to make sure agencies are responsibly implementing the technology.
Though some of these technologies are new, the concerns creators have about ownership rights and intellectual property aren’t.
A senior administration official said the White House is aware of these anxieties and is consulting stakeholders from the IP community to navigate the implications.
And with campaign season heating up, the potential for AI and deepfakes to adversely affect the 2024 election can’t be ignored. As I reported in Brianna Tucker for WaPo, new advancements are rapidly evolving to make it easy to make convincing audio, images, and text. What’s more distressing is that the sophistication and accessibility of AI have vastly outpaced regulatory and legislative action.
Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York introduced a bill last week that would require all content generated by artificial intelligence technology to be accompanied by a mandatory disclaimer: “DISCLAIMER: this output has been generated by artificial intelligence.”
The Federal Trade Commission would be responsible for the enforcement of violations, which could result in civil penalties. The disclaimer would apply to videos, photos, text, audio, or any other AI-generated material.
Torres said that crafting a regulatory framework for managing the existential risks of AI without under- or over-regulation will be one of the central challenges confronting Congress in the years and decades to come.
“The simplest place to start is disclosure. All generative AI should be required to disclose itself as AI,” he added. “Disclosure is by no means a magic bullet, but it’s a common-sense starting point to what will surely be a long road toward federal regulation.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! It’s Wednesday, June 7, 2023. You’re reading Supercreator Daily, your morning guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience.
Aguilar: McCarthy has a “very strong anti-UKR faction” within House GOP
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilarcharacterized Kevin McCarthy’s resistance to a separate bill to include additional funding for Ukraine aid as the latest example of the speaker’s weakness among House conservatives.
“I think I read those comments from Speaker McCarthy saying he is very mindful that the most extreme voices in his conference hold sway,” Aguilar told reporters on Tuesday. “He has a very strong anti-Ukraine faction within his conference that he’s trying to navigate.”
The comments the number-three House Democrat was referring to came from McCarthy on Monday when asked if House Republicans would support legislation that boosted military funding above the levels enacted in the budget deal he and President Biden agreed to last month.
McCarthy told Punchbowl News that any additional funding would have to be approved through the appropriations process that will kick now into high gear based on the framework outlined in the budget bill.
In a separate interview on Monday with CNN, McCarthy suggested the Defense Department look to repurpose money Congress has already approved.
“I think what we really need to do, we need to get the efficiencies in the Pentagon. Think about it, $886 billion. You don’t think there’s waste?” he said. “I consider myself a hawk, but I don’t want to waste money. So think we’ve got to find efficiencies.”
The Biden-McCarthy deal increased funding for the military and veterans’ programs by three percent, which matches what the president asked for in the budget he proposed in March. (In addition to the new work requirements for food and cash assistance, progressives who opposed the agreement also pointed to the increase in military funding as another reason.)
But as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive against Russia in what administration officials expect to be a brutal summer of fighting and countries like China and Iran pose intensifying national security threats, Senate Republicans feel the boost in defense dollars is too modest.
Ahead of the final vote to pass the budget bill last week, a group of Senate Republicans demanded a commitment from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a supplemental defense funding bill to the floor, to which the leaders agreed. It would need to pass both chambers of Congress to be signed into law.
Aguilar said House Democrats are united behind Ukraine and democracy and would wait for the Biden administration to make a request for additional funding before pressing the issue with the speaker.
“But clearly House Democrats will continue to be supportive of Ukraine moving forward,” he said. “It’s going to be on the speaker as to whether this gets some floor time.”
TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
10 a.m. President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
The Senate is in with two votes scheduled at 11:30 am: The first is to confirm David Crane to be Under Secretary of Energy and the second is to advance the nomination of Dale Ho to be District Judge for the Southern District of New York.
The House is in with first votes expected at 12:20 p.m. and last votes expected at 4 p.m. on two bills to ban regulations on gas stoves.
12:15 p.m. President Biden and Vice President Harris will have lunch.
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THEY DID THAT
House conservatives retaliated against their leaders for several grievances by blocking a procedural vote on a bill to block a nonexistent ban on gas stoves. This was the first rule to fail in the House in more than two decades.
Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Colin Allred of Texas, and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania reintroduced a bill that would require insurance companies to cover diagnostic and supplemental breast exams without cost-sharing.
Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York introduced legislation that would reduce mink production following confirmed outbreaks of the virus that causes COVID-19 at nearly 18 fur firms across the US.
Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Diana DeGette of Colorado and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington introduced a bill that would make a rule to preserve millions of acres of national forest wildlands a federal law.
Chase CEO Jamie Dimon attended the New Democrat Coalition’s weekly lunch on Tuesday to discuss the banking sector and the state of the economy, per a person familiar with the meeting.
Climate activists interrupted Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia during an interview on permitting reform. Manchin and the rest of the crowd eventually were invited to another room to finish the convo.
The pharmaceutical company Merck claimed in a lawsuit against the Biden administration that the Inflation Reduction Act provision that empowers Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices is unconstitutional. Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee called the lawsuit “outrageous.”
The White House announced the president will be on the move later this month with stops in California from June 19-21 and Chicago on June 28.
The Biden re-election campaign and Democratic National Committee launched a week-long six-figure national and local ad blitz in several battleground states to promote the budget bill the president negotiated with Speaker McCarthy.
Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people. The advocacy group also released a downloadable guidebook with resources designed to support LGBTQ+ travelers and those living in hostile states.
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