Congress Considers AI

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation held a hearing titled, “Advances in AI: Are We Ready for a Tech Revolution?” On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held its own AI hearing, “Artificial Intelligence: Risks and Opportunities.”
AI has captured public and media attention in recent months—and justifiably the attention of lawmakers. A general theme of this week’s hearings was that guardrails are needed for this powerful area of technology—a point supported by Microsoft President Brad Smith in his recent blog about responsible AI.
We expect conversations to continue in Washington about AI throughout the year. This will be an area where lawmakers will be listening to constituents, including technology professionals, to learn about the potential of AI and the best approaches to ensure this technology is used safely.
Thank you for reading. You’ll find our tech policy news roundup below and a featured podcast.

This Week in Washington 

  • Politico and Semafor: A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced the RESTRICT Act which, if passed, would give the White House and Commerce Department the ability to restrict foreign apps, like TikTok, in order to protect the data privacy of Americans.

  • Roll Call: Lawmakers are aiming to protect national security by setting up a program to monitor U.S. funding going to foreign technology. The Treasury Department estimates an investment of $10 million this fiscal year to fund the program. 
  • Cyberscoop: TSA is working to improve its digital defense by requiring airlines to develop and implement plans that strengthen cybersecurity protections of U.S. critical infrastructure.
  • FedScoop: The Department of Energy’s CIO Ann Dunkin is on a mission to forge new alliances and international partnerships in order to fulfill one of the goals of the Biden Administration’s new National Cyber Strategy.
  • New York Times: President Biden’s FCC nominee, GiGi Sohn, who quickly faced opposition from Republicans, has withdrawn her nomination.

Article Summary

  • CNN: Lawmakers praised the Supreme Court for considering Section 230 following Gonzalez v. Google, and further bipartisan support is growing for revising the federal immunity law for tech platforms as Senators state that no matter how the court rules, Congress must rewrite the law so that the public can hold these platforms accountable.
  • GCN and Government Technology: Experts are calling on the government to do more in order to close the digital divide. The U.S. needs to ensure that people can take advantage of the internet access provided and that local officials are supporting them by adopting and promoting the plans. At the 2023 State of the Net Conference, the NTIA’s Administrator, Alan Davidson, discussed the critical need for collaboration in utilizing the billions of dollars in funding currently available to help close the digital divide.
  • Axios: Despite initial fears regarding plagiarism, educators are opening up to the idea of AI such as ChatGPT being used in classrooms. These tools are even helping serve the diverse needs of students and increasing teachers’ efficiency.
  • Microsoft: Office 365 is expanding from the existing Accessibility Center by adding an Accessibility Assistant that will help creators produce more accessible content with less effort.
  • Axios: With concerns from parents and lawmakers rising, streaming services and social media platforms are working on developing ways to verify a user’s age with the goal of keeping underage users from accessing certain content and protecting minors online.

Featured Podcast

The Wall Street Journal

  • WSJ Tech News Briefing
    Google has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence and even had its own AI chatbot years before ChatGPT went viral. But inside the company, frustration has simmered over Google’s reluctance to release these products to the public. WSJ Google reporter Miles Kruppa joins host Zoe Thomas to discuss the reasons behind those choices and if they cost the company its lead in AI. (Did Google’s Caution Give Microsoft a Lead in AI? – March 9, 2023)