Suddenly, everyone wants to talk about how to regulate AI

Suddenly everyone wants to talk about how to regulate AI | itkovian

Last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman appeared before a US Senate committee to speak about the risks and potential of AI language models. Altman, along with many senators, has 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.

For an AI policy nerd like myself, the Senate hearing was both encouraging and frustrating. Encouraging because the conversation seems to have moved beyond promoting lackluster self-regulation and towards rules that might actually hold companies accountable. Frustrating because the debate seems to have forgotten the last five years of AI policy. I just published a story looking at all the existing international efforts to regulate AI technology. You can read it here.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.

« To suggest that Congress start from scratch is simply part of the industry’s favorite narrative, which is that Congress is so far behind and doesn’t understand the technology. How could they ever regulate us? » says Anna Lenhart, a researcher at the Institute for Data Democracy and Policy at George Washington University and a former Hill staffer.

In fact, politicians in the last Congress, which ran from January 2021 to January 2023, introduced a bunch of AI laws. Lenhart put this together sorted list of all AI regulations proposed at that time. They cover everything from risk assessment to transparency to data protection. None of them made it to the president’s desk, but as new (or, for many, scary) generative AI tools have caught Washington’s attention, Lenhart expects some of them to be revamped and reappear in a form or in the other.

Here are a few to keep an eye out for.

Algorithmic liability law

This bill was introduced by Democrats in Congress and the US Senate in 2022, pre-ChatGPT, to address the tangible harms of automated decision-making systems, such as those that denied people painkillers or rejected their mortgage applications.

Hi, I’m Samuel