/Senators seek solutions to possible AI dangers in new round of hearings

Senators seek solutions to possible AI dangers in new round of hearings

WASHINGTON — A day before titans of Big Tech descend upon the Capitol, senators will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine how Congress can write legislation to protect against possible dangers posed by artificial intelligence. 

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the leaders of the Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law, will hold their third hearing this year on regulating AI.

The hearing will feature testimony from Microsoft President Brad Smith; William Daly, the chief scientist and senior vice president of the software company Nvidia; and Boston University law professor Woodrow Hartzog. 

Separately Tuesday, the leaders of a Commerce and Science subcommittee, Sens. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., will hold a hearing focused on how AI companies can boost transparency and the public’s trust.

The Judiciary hearing comes just days after the unlikely duo of Blumenthal and Hawley revealed their one-page legislative framework for regulating AI.

The bipartisan framework, among other things, calls for creating an independent oversight body that AI companies would need to register with; it would make it clear that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 does not apply to AI and that it allows companies to be held legally liable for harms, including election interference and explicit deepfake imagery of real people; and it would require companies to inform users that they are interacting with AI models or systems or to watermark AI-generated deepfakes.

“Top industry executives and leading experts will help us shape legislation to protect against AI harms,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “As we move forward with a framework for sensible guardrails, we need a full and fair airing of the dangers as well as tremendous promise that AI portends.”

The main event will be Wednesday. That’s when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will hold his first AI Insight Forum, where all 100 senators will get a chance to hear from some of the biggest names in tech and the AI space.

They include Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and the owner of X, formerly known as Twitter; Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook parent company Meta; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; and Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the parent company of the AI chatbot ChatGPT.

It will be “one of the most important meetings Congress has held in years as we welcome the top minds in AI,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

In an interview, Blumenthal said Schumer’s AI forums, which will continue through the fall, are working “in tandem” with committees like his that are holding hearings and drafting legislation.

“He’s educating members. We’re trying to produce legislation. The two are very much in tandem and closely aligned,” Blumenthal said. “But in our framework, we have some very important details on issues like transparency, testing watermarks and the like, with enforcement.”

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