Congressional AI Resolution Coming Soon, Lawmakers Say

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Reps. Will Hurd and Robin Kelly plan to introduce an AI resolution celebrating past innovations and laying the groundwork for future legislation.

Two members of Congress hope to introduce a resolution in September that will outline the direction lawmakers should take on artificial intelligence issues. 

Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said in a Tuesday webinar hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center they are working on a congressional resolution on AI. The resolution will recognize previous bipartisan accomplishments during both the Trump and Obama administrations as well as lay out a vision for the government’s role in AI development. 

“We're going to identify the need for a comprehensive strategy, and then we're going to propose these four pillars as guideposts to develop going down in the future,” Hurd said. Hurd is retiring from Congress this year. 

The four pillars the resolution will advance are workforce, national security, research and development and ethics. Each pillar corresponds to white papers the Bipartisan Policy Center, in partnership with Hurd, Kelly, the Center for New American Security and the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, published over the past few months. The ethics report was released Tuesday. 

The goal is to use the resolution as a foundation for turning recommendations outlined in each white paper into real legislation. Hurd compared this process to how the Cyberspace Solarium Commission evolved. Hurd indicated he and Kelly are looking for co-sponsors for the resolution. 

“This is a framework for future congresses and future administrations to work off of,” Hurd said. 

Eric Schmidt, former chief executive officer of Google, currently chairs the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. Speaking on the Tuesday webinar, he said the most important recommendation put forth in the series of white papers has to do with funding for research and development. 

The report focusing on research and development was published earlier this month, and it led with a call for Congress to double federal funding for AI research and development immediately. The recommendation was based on previous suggestions put forward by NSCAI and the White House. 

The White House announced Wednesday a $1 billion effort that establishes 12 new research institutes focused on AI and quantum computing, according to an Office of Science and Technology Policy press release. The National Science Foundation and the Energy Department will create hubs for research and workforce development, according to the release. 

This new investment is a step forward, but the research and development paper still calls for far more funding. The report called for the federal government to increase AI research and development spending year by year to reach a goal of $25 billion by 2025.

Aside from funding, Kelly elaborated on the need to advance AI workforce and training issues. The Illinois congresswoman added that it’s difficult to get kids interested if they don’t see themselves represented in the workforce, or if they don’t even see technology as an accessible tool in the first place. She said in the rural parts of her Chicagoland district, up to 40% of residents can’t get online due to a lack of broadband connectivity. 

If the U.S. workforce is going to be able to keep up with demand for AI, more people and more people from diverse backgrounds need to be brought into the AI workforce through engagement and training, Kelly indicated. 

“I think we need to start from the beginning, with our kids,” Kelly said. “We need to really get them interested in this.”

For the federal workforce, this could end up looking like a rotations program, where private sector technologists are brought into the federal government for tours of duty of sorts, Kelly said. The federal government will never be able to compete with salaries offered by the private sector, so developing more public-private partnerships may be the solution to ensuring the federal government is up to date on AI. 

Both lawmakers emphasized the need to hire a diverse AI workforce to ensure innovative tools aren’t reinforcing bias, but are instead helping people to overcome their own implicit biases. 

“One of the areas of research that the federal government should double down on is on bias and how you prevent that,” Hurd said.

Editor's note: This article was updated to include the Center for Security and Emerging Technology's role in the white paper series.