Congress ‘doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing‘ in AI regulation, Ted Cruz says

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a business hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill May 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. Cruz questioned Congress' ability to legislate around artificial intelligence technology at a June 15 event.

At least one senator believes Congress’ old age is hindering efforts to regulate the new technology.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, didn’t mince words Thursday when asked about Congress’ ability to fully grasp and regulate artificial intelligence.

“To be honest, Congress doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing in this area,” Cruz, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said at Politico’s Global Tech Day. “This is an institution where I think the median age in the Senate is about 142. This is not a tech-savvy group.”

The outspoken senator only exaggerated the Senate’s median age slightly — Pew Research Center pegs it at just over 65 years old — but his comments come as lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle embark on a sort of AI 101 education

Some of AI’s industry leaders have been happy to engage with lawmakers and White House officials, eager to set the messaging agenda and provide insight to what AI tools — like OpenAI’s ChatGPT platform — actually do and how they work.

“I think many of us, we’re still in learning mode, we’re just trying to get information,” Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and vice-chair of the House Democratic Caucus said June 7 at the Amazon Web Services Summit. “If you write an act of Congress and it’s wrong, you need another act to correct that, so we want to be careful about how we proceed.”

Nonetheless, lawmakers have introduced several AI-related pieces of legislation, including bills that would prohibit AI from making major societal decisions, mandate warning labels for AI-generated material and create a new digital and AI oversight agency