As the Use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) Spreads, Congress Looks to Rein It In

The White House, lawmakers from both parties, and federal agencies are all working on bills or projects to constrain potential downsides of the tech.

“We want to make sure we’re asking the accountability questions now because our job is going to get more difficult when we encounter AI systems that are more capable,” GAO chief data scientist Taka Ariga says. Despite the recent efforts of lawmakers and officials like Ariga, some policy experts say the US agencies and Congress still need to invest more in adapting to the age of AI.

In a recent report, Georgetown’s CSET outlined scary but plausible “AI accidents” to encourage lawmakers to work more urgently on AI safety research and standards. Its hypothetical disasters included a skin cancer app misdiagnosing Black people at higher rates, leading to unnecessary deaths, or mapping apps steering drivers into the path of wildfires. The Brookings Institution’s director of governance studies, Darrell West, recently called for the revival of the Office of Technology Assessment, shut down 25 years ago, to provide lawmakers with independent research on new technologies such as AI.

Members of Congress from both parties have attempted to bring back the OTA in recent years. They include Takano, who says it could help Congress be more proactive in tackling challenges raised by algorithms. “We need OTA or something like it to help members anticipate where technology is going to challenge democratic institutions, or the justice system, or political stability,” he says. . . . full article at Wired