GOP senator urges feds to hold off on AI crackdown as White House readies new executive order

Sen. Mike Rounds wants federal regulators to wait for Congress to act before throttling artificial intelligence, but President Biden’s team is preparing new executive action to address the tech danger.

Confrontation between lawmakers and regulators on AI is increasingly likely as the South Dakota Republican’s request for patience on Wednesday comes as federal officials brace for Mr. Biden to sign an executive order on AI in the coming months.

Tension between Congress and the Biden administration over who will set America’s AI policy spilled into public view at a Senate Banking Committee hearing examining the tech’s effect on financial services.

Mr. Rounds said U.S. officials need to ensure any regulations do not inhibit innovation, or policymakers will risk letting China dominate the emerging tech market.

“Although we will have many discussions about the dangers, we must also acknowledge that halting progress can be dangerous, especially as our global competitors such as China have no intentions of slowing down,” Mr. Rounds said. “Financial regulators should allow Congress to act and resist the urge to overregulate new technology as they run the risk of unintended consequences.”

The president has said he’s set to take executive action on artificial intelligence.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is preparing for Mr. Biden to sign an AI executive order later this year, according to Jen Easterly, the agency’s director.

Ms. Easterly did not preview Mr. Biden’s AI order in remarks at Tuesday’s opening of a tech and cyber center at George Mason University’s National Security Institute, but she said she’s fixated on AI’s role in cybersecurity. She said she’s more skeptical than many others that generative AI tools have value for cyber defense.

The AI tools’ effect on national security and the financial sector emerged as top concerns on Capitol Hill this week, where the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence dug into risks posed by new AI tools.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown said Congress cannot afford to sleepwalk through an AI transformation of the American economy leading to banks, brokers and insurance companies relying on the new tech tools.

“I think one thing my colleagues and I can agree on is that the Silicon Valley ethos of move fast and break things is dangerous for both our financial system and our entire economy,” the Ohio Democrat said at a committee hearing Wednesday.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner said at a Tuesday hearing he worried about AI fueling market manipulation.

The Virginia Democrat said AI tools have assisted the U.S. intelligence community in sensing, processing and translating information but America needs to expect foreign adversaries will obtain new capabilities too. 

AI tools’ accessibility and commercial utility have rapidly increased in recent months and U.S. policymakers are working to keep up. Mr. Biden’s team has touted voluntary commitments from leading AI companies on safety issues as it works toward new executive action this year.

Congress is proceeding at a more deliberative pace that may not yield a vote on AI legislation this year. 

Source: WT