U.S. Senate releases roadmap on artificial intelligence

US Senate

Key Takeaways

On May 15, the U.S. Senate’s Bipartisan AI Working Group, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), released their roadmap on artificial intelligence entitled Driving U.S. Innovation in Artificial Intelligence: A Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence Policy in the United States Senate. The roadmap seeks to identify key areas of consensus across Congress that could pre-date legislation on artificial intelligence (AI) in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. 

The Senate Roadmap focuses on eight key themes:

  1. Supporting U.S. Innovation in AI
  2. AI and the Workforce
  3. High Impact Uses of AI 
  4. Elections and Democracy
  5. Privacy and Liability 
  6. Transparency, Explainability, Intellectual Property, and Copyright 
  7. Safeguarding Against AI Risks 
  8. National Security 

What’s included in the Roadmap?

  • Requests for broad funding and resource development: To support AI initiatives, funding requests span multiple federal government programs, including unfunded accounts within the CHIPS and Science Act and the continued provision of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grants that will support AI readiness and cybersecurity. Additional requested resources include creation of AI literacy best practices, which can be shared with state and local governmental partners to promote education in the use of AI.
  • Promoting workforce development: As AI systems become increasingly capable and general-purpose in their functionality, public and private employers can address the prospect of potential workforce displacements through several strategies, such as: incentivizing stakeholder consultation prior to the development and implementation of AI technologies into the workplace; encouraging the private sector to integrate new technologies with reskilling opportunities for workers; and incentivizing participation in retraining programs that can be offered in-house or at community colleges and universities.
  • Considering transparency and disclosure policies: The roadmap suggests legislation aimed at implementing transparency and disclosure requirements for AI products and use cases that may be sensitive or high-risk. The roadmap also reiterates the centrality and applicability of consumer protection, civil rights laws, and constitutional rights in the adoption and utilization of AI technologies.
  • Adopting risk-based governance models: The roadmap supports the creation of governance models for AI that are both risk-based and help foster innovation. This includes creating a structure for evaluating when a product release choice, such as the decision for whether to create a model that is closed or fully open-source models, deserves scrutiny. The roadmap ultimately encourages various committees of jurisdiction in Congress to consider a risk regime that is appropriate for its jurisdictional area. 

What is the impact on counties?

Counties can monitor the Senate Roadmap as a precursor to additional Congressional activity in the area of artificial intelligence. There are several areas of particular focus, including recommended areas of regulatory oversight, strategies on combatting fraud and abuse of use, and enhancing election integrity, that pertain to counties. 

  • Recommended areas of regulatory oversight: The roadmap recommends a degree of regulatory review or oversight in several critical areas pertaining to artificial intelligence, including energy consumption, the financial and housing sectors, the federal procurement process, and other areas of critical infrastructure. 
  • Combatting high-risk content and fraud: To combat high-risk AI applications, several measures are proposed, including implementing robust deterrents against the use of AI for fraudulent activities and establishing strict guidelines for the use of AI in the health sector to ensure patient safety and ethical medical practices.
  • Enhancing election integrity: Effective watermarking and digital content provenance techniques are crucial for AI-generated or AI-augmented election content. States are encouraged to utilize existing resources from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to maintain the integrity of election processes.

Next steps

The Senate Roadmap on AI is not currently a series of formal legislative proposals. However, the roadmap could pre-date legislation in the coming months. NACo will continue to monitor developments in AI-based legislation and assess the impact to counties. You can read the full Senate AI Roadmap here.

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