Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) presented his vision for the legislative process, focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), during a “productive” lunch with fellow Senators on Wednesday. Schumer described AI as “one of the most pressing consequential issues and innovations of our time” and took the opportunity to outline his vision for the Congress.
“I laid out my ideas about a comprehensive framework Congress can use to supercharge AI innovation in a safe and responsible way,” Schumer said. He emphasized that his “SAFE Innovation Framework” for AI aims to encourage innovation while ensuring safety. “I call it that because innovation must be our North Star,” Schumer declared. He added, “AI could be our most spectacular innovation yet,” urging Congress to develop a plan that “encourages, not stifles, innovation.”
The New York Senator emphasized that innovation in AI can be achieved safely. The “SAFE Innovation Framework” he proposed includes specific guardrails focused on security, accountability, protecting foundations, and explainability, with the latter being the most challenging aspect within the field of AI.
Schumer acknowledged the unprecedented challenges Congress faces in dealing with AI-related issues, citing the lack of legislative precedent in the fast-growing field. “We don’t have much of a history,” he noted. Even experts, Schumer revealed, are uncertain about the questions policymakers should be asking, underscoring the complexity of the matter.
To facilitate in-depth discussions on AI, Schumer announced the establishment of “AI Insight Forums” to be convened in the Senate. These forums will bring together leading experts to address the intricacies of AI.
Recognizing the importance of bipartisanship, Schumer recenty formed a cross-party group comprising Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Todd Young (R-IN) to collaborate on addressing AI-related challenges.
Schumer underscored the importance of approaching the task with “humility” due to its inherent challenges. As the Senate Majority Leader, he pledged a diligent effort to develop comprehensive legislation, recognizing its utmost significance. Schumer stated, “We’re going to do everything we can to succeed. Success is not guaranteed. AI is unlike anything we’ve dealt with before. It’s difficult. But even if we can find some solutions and create a degree of consensus to deal with some of AI’s many challenges, we got to pursue it.”
Preserving Democracy in the Age of AI
When asked about the worst-case scenarios associated with the AI challenge by The Pavlovic Today, Senator Schumer shared the concerns that people should be aware of.
“There’s so many different issues that face us,” Schumer responded. “Two big questions are how do you encourage innovation, and yet have guardrails that prevent AI from going off track?” He further voiced his worries regarding the preservation of democracy, asking, “How do we preserve democracy? How do we keep our elections fair?”
The New York Democrat also expressed concerns about the potential misuse of artificial intelligence, specifically in generating deceptive content that mimics politicians. He highlighted the alarming possibility of someone creating a highly persuasive, fabricated image of any senator or congressman, regardless of their political affiliation, and disseminating it to millions of households. “Can’t put that genie back,” warned Schumer.
“Elizabeth Warren brought up in our lunch today that there’s an AI video of her saying ‘Republicans shouldn’t vote.’ It looks like her, sounds like her,” he said.
Schumer delved into the challenges associated with AI, specifically addressing the issue of “explainability,” which he considers to be the toughest aspect. He mentioned that Congress will explore the idea of requiring companies to develop systems that allow users to understand, “in simple and understandable terms,” why a particular answer was produced and its source. “You want to know where it comes from. And you want to know what was true, why it was chosen and something else wasn’t chosen,” he told The Pavlovic Today.
“I’ll give you a fascinating example. So there’s this great diet. And it’s very convincing and written to convince tens of millions of people that it says ‘eat a lot of hotdogs.’ Well, if you knew where it came from, Oscar Mayer, you know something. It’s one of many examples,” he said.
Senator Schumer recently delivered a speech at the Center for Strategic on SAFE Innovation in the AI Age, where he presented his “SAFE Innovation Framework.”
The framework addresses the various risks associated with artificial intelligence, with a particular focus on potential societal harms.
Schumer highlighted concerns such as job displacement, misuse by adversaries and malicious actors, the amplification of disinformation, and the exacerbation of bias.
During his speech, Schumer emphasized that AI has the potential to fundamentally transform the world. With his “SAFE Innovation Framework,” the Senator envisions a future where AI acts as a catalyst for positive change, safeguarding against societal harms while propelling humanity toward a progressive tomorrow.