Last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman appeared before a US Senate committee to talk about the risks and potential of AI language models. Altman, along with many senators, called for international standards for artificial intelligence. He also urged the US to regulate the technology and create a new agency similar to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate artificial intelligence.
For an AI policy nerd like myself, the Senate hearings were both exciting and frustrating. Encouragingly, the conversation seems to have shifted to promoting unscrupulous self-regulation and rules that can actually hold companies accountable. It’s frustrating because the debate seems to have forgotten the past five-plus 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 is starting from scratch just plays into the industry’s favorite narrative, which is that Congress is so behind and doesn’t understand technology; how can they ever regulate us?’ said Anna Lenhart, a political scientist at George Washington University’s Institute for Data Democracy and Policy and a former Hill staffer.
In fact, politicians in the last Congress, which ran from January 2021 to January 2023, introduced a ton of legislation around artificial intelligence. Lenhart has put together this neat list of all the AI regulations that have been proposed during that time. These include everything from risk assessment to transparency and data protection. None of them have made it to the president’s desk, but given that the vibrant (or, to many, terrifying) new generation AI tools have captured Washington’s attention, Lenhart expects some of them to be revisited and resurface in one form or another.
Here are a few to keep an eye on.
Algorithmic Accountability Act
This bill was introduced by Democrats in the US House and Senate in 2022, before ChatGPT, to address the tangible harms of automated decision-making systems, such as people being denied pain medication or having their mortgage applications denied.