Hurd: Congress Must Make Sure Artificial Intelligence Maintains Western Values

Eric Gay/AP

Lawmakers need to pave the way for AI by encouraging widespread 5G adoption, Rep. Will Hurd said.

The United States will not reach the ubiquitous use of artificial intelligence without the wide-scale adoption of 5G networks and Congress will play a crucial role implementing both technologies, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, told attendees of IBM’s Think Gov conference Thursday.

“The most important role I think Congress has is an oversight role, which is about asking important questions about how new technology is being adopted,” Hurd said.

To ensure that America is on the bleeding edge of developing the technology, the congressman announced he is devising a national AI strategy for the United States. Hurd said by creating the strategy, he hopes to ensure that the U.S. will remain a global leader in the development and use of AI and that the ethics that are going to be adopted around AI reflect those of “Western liberal democracies, not China.”

“China is not using facial recognition to make it easier to buy groceries in the grocery store,” he said. “They are developing it to continue to keep track of their citizens. So we need to make sure as the ethics around the development of this new technology is based on our values.”

Hurd also said that the adoption of AI coincides with the implementation of 5G networks and that it is imperative for people to recognize the “transformationalness”—meaning the transformative nature—of 5G implementation. Without 5G networks, he said America will not see smart cities, the adoption of driverless vehicles or efficient artificial intelligence.

“Many municipalities don’t recognize the benefits quick deployments of 5G networks will bring,” Hurd said. “This is an area where Congress can do something in the next 15 to 18 years to incentivize the development of these networks.”

Despite its innovative potential, Hurd said 5G “is probably the area that worries [him] most.” He said Google, Amazon, and other tech giants took off in America because the country had the strongest 4G networks in the world. China recognizes that, he said, and now wants to make sure that Chinese companies “own” 5G development.

So it’s imperative that the U.S. develops 5G to compete with Chinese companies like Huawei, and also guarantees that Germany and other allies build 5G networks that are compatible with America’s.

“There’s really only two bipartisan issues left in Congress, at this moment: cybersecurity and the threat of China,” he said. “So I think this is something that we can come together on and continue to work on as we get closer to the November election.”

He also added that he understands how authoritarian regimes can move factors of production into one direction quicker than Western governments.

“But I will always take American ingenuity and American creativity, and I will always bet on us,” Hurd said. “We just need to make sure that the regulatory environment around all these future industries is not overly burdensome and ensure that we allow for continued creativity and entrepreneurship.”