The US must lead the world on artificial intelligence, Senator Ted Cruz asserted — and risks losing its advantage if Congress imposes “heavy-handed” regulations sought by Democrats and some Republicans.
(Bloomberg) — The US must lead the world on artificial intelligence, Senator Ted Cruz asserted — and risks losing its advantage if Congress imposes “heavy-handed” regulations sought by Democrats and some Republicans.
“I think it is a bizarre suggestion to have the federal government step in with a heavy-handed regulatory regime,” Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” Monday evening. “The answer is not to put the federal government in the place of stopping all new technological innovation — because, you know what, our enemies are not gonna stop. China is not gonna stop.”
He specifically criticized the idea to require prior approval for AI innovations, acknowledging that the technology comes with risks but that Congress lacks the understanding to properly adjudicate them.
“There aren’t five members of Congress that could even tell you what AI is, and they don’t have the understanding to understand the risks,” Cruz added.
Read more: Tech Leaders Discuss AI Policy in Closed-Door Senate Meeting
His comments come just under a week after technology leaders descended on Washington to participate in a closed-door AI forum organized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Attendees of the high-profile summit broadly agreed that the federal government should play an oversight role, but are far from a consensus on what form that role ought to take.
Proposals by lawmakers range from prohibiting an automated weapon launch system without human input to clearly labeling AI-generated images in political ads.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Josh Hawley, the top Democrat and Republican on a Senate Judiciary technology subcommittee, earlier this month introduced a bipartisan framework for AI oversight that lays out guidelines for future legislation. Among the suggestions are an independent government office to implement licensing requirements for companies developing AI, and promoting legal accountability.
Read more: AI Bipartisan Plan Touches Consumer Privacy, National Security
Several companies like Microsoft. Corp. and OpenAI have supported a licensing regime for the most powerful AI models, whereas other companies like IBM have opposed that proposal. At last week’s forum, labor and civil society representatives warned about the risks AI poses to workers, mental health and democracy.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding a hearing on AI Tuesday afternoon that will focus on national security.
–With assistance from Annmarie Hordern, Joe Mathieu and Anna Edgerton.
(Updates with new detail in second to last paragraph; an earlier version corrected the spelling of Schumer’s name)
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