A dozen Democratic senators have proposed new regulations for artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent discrimination in decisions related to employment, education, housing, and more.
The proposed bill, called the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2023, would assign the task of creating AI regulations to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The senators also plan to allocate more funding to the FTC in order to hire 75 employees for enforcement purposes.
Sens. Ron Wyden and Cory Booker, leading sponsors of the bill, are concerned that AI tools are already leading to discrimination in various sectors, including education, employment, healthcare, and housing.
According to Mr. Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, the bill aims to ensure that AI systems responsible for critical decisions are tested regularly to prevent bias based on factors such as location, religion, or race.
Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, believes that automated tools currently underestimate the needs of Black patients in hospitals and discriminate against women and minorities in employment decisions.
Instead of relying solely on existing anti-discrimination policies, the senators believe that the FTC should address these concerns. The proposed bill would require companies to assess the impact of incorporating AI into their work and would give the FTC the authority to create rules regarding these assessments.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, stated that it would promote transparency on the effects of algorithms and empower the FTC to better protect consumers.
However, some GOP lawmakers do not trust the FTC, and some Republicans question the need for new laws to restrict AI. Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas expressed concern in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan regarding the agency’s plans to aggressively regulate AI for discrimination and misinformation issues. Mr. Cruz believes that Congress itself poses a greater risk than AI and has cautioned against hasty regulation.
President Biden’s administration is preparing an executive order to address AI concerns, set to be signed later this year. The White House is taking steps to regulate AI before any new legislation specific to AI is passed by Congress.
Companion legislation to the Senate Democrats’ AI bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Yvette Clarke, a New York Democrat. Previous versions of the Algorithmic Accountability Act failed to progress in Congress last year.