House Approves AI Accountability Act to Study AI Accountability
A Step Towards Building an AI Regulatory Framework
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously approved the AI Accountability Act, marking a small but significant step towards the development of an artificial intelligence regulatory framework. The bill, introduced by Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., seeks to address concerns surrounding AI accountability and requires the Commerce Department to study accountability measures in AI systems used in communications networks and electromagnetic spectrum sharing applications. The bill also calls for the assessment of how these measures can ensure the trustworthiness of AI systems. The Commerce Department would be required to report its findings and make recommendations on accountability assessment systems within 18 months.
The Need for AI Regulation
As calls for broad AI regulation continue to amplify, the House’s progress in advancing the AI Accountability Act is a promising development. Although it primarily affects a single federal department, this bill reflects a growing recognition of the importance of establishing regulations for AI. However, there is still a long way to go before comprehensive AI regulation is achieved.
Challenges in Congress
The House has yet to pass a stand-alone bill on AI, with the closest advancement being the inclusion of AI assessment language within the National Defense Authorization Act. This language emphasizes assessing AI vulnerabilities in the Pentagon’s systems while simultaneously encouraging the aggressive use of AI for bolstering national security. On the Senate side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has hosted multiple AI listening sessions for senators, indicating a commitment to addressing AI regulation. Nonetheless, progress has been slow, and it remains uncertain when comprehensive AI regulatory frameworks will be introduced.
The Importance of Expedited Legislation
While it is encouraging to witness a piece of AI-related legislation advancing in Congress, experts argue that the pace of legislative efforts must accelerate to keep up with AI advancements. Jake Denton, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation Tech Policy Center, emphasizes the need for swift action to ensure the safe and ethical deployment of AI. Delays in establishing clear guidelines may leave room for misuse of this powerful technology.
Voluntary Standards and Possible Missteps
President Biden recently unveiled voluntary standards for AI, with seven companies already agreeing to abide by them. These standards prioritize the safety, security, and trustworthiness of AI systems. However, without comprehensive regulations in place, the adoption and enforcement of these standards remain uncertain.
Overcoming Challenges: The AI Accountability Act
The AI Accountability Act passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is a notable step towards addressing the regulatory challenges posed by AI. However, the bill’s progress through the legislative process indicates that Congress is still grappling with the fundamental understanding and investigation of AI accountability.
Defining Trustworthiness in AI Systems
During the bill’s debate, Rep. Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., offered an amendment that emphasizes the need to define the term “trustworthy” in the context of AI. The amendment calls for an examination of how the term is used and defined and its relationship to other terms such as “responsible” and “human-centric.” This amendment highlights the ongoing efforts of Congress to understand and explore the complexities of AI regulation thoroughly.
In conclusion, the approval of the AI Accountability Act by the House Energy and Commerce Committee represents a significant stride towards establishing an AI regulatory framework. While progress remains sluggish, the bill signals a growing awareness and determination to navigate the complexities of AI accountability. As technology advances rapidly, experts stress the urgency of expedited legislation to ensure the ethical and safe deployment of AI. The development of comprehensive AI regulations will require collaboration between industry leaders, policymakers, and legislators to shape a future where AI is trusted and harnessed responsibly.