Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the Senate’s first AI Insight Forum taking place tomorrow. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
For Congress to legislate on artificial intelligence is for us to engage in one of the most complex and important subjects Congress has ever faced. In just a few years, artificial intelligence has grown in complexity, speed, and power, doing things even experts didn’t think possible so soon.
In past situations when subjects like this that are so complex and difficult come forward, too many Congresses have tended to behave reactively, or favored delaying action until it is too late.
But on AI, we can’t behave like ostriches and stick our heads in the sand. It will affect just about every aspect of society in major ways, both positive and negative. And on an issue this wide-ranging and important, we must make every good-faith effort to act.
Congress must recognize two things: that this effort must be bipartisan, and we need outside help if we want to write effective AI policies.
We need help of course from developers and experts who build AI systems. But we also need help from critics who can make sure the liabilities of AI are minimized by guardrails. Those critics will come from two places: from outside the industry such as labor and civil rights and the creative community.
But we also need critics from inside the industry as well, who may know in a very technical sense how to minimize the dangers.
That’s why tomorrow will be so important. Tomorrow morning I will convene with Senators Rounds and Heinrich and Young the first of a series of AI Insight Forums, to bring leaders from inside and outside the industry to debate Congress’s role in regulating AI.
We have a balanced and diverse group at the table: not just those from tech but from AI experts and ethicists who have spent years researching and advancing the technology. We’ll also have organizations outside the industry representing labor and civil rights, the world of academia, defense, and so much more.
All of these groups, together in one room, talking about why Congress must act, what questions to ask, and how to build a consensus for safe innovation. That is of course what we have called our suggestion.
Because AI innovation must be our north star in all we do. And I’m talking about innovation in both a transformational sense – the kind of innovation that unlocks new cures, improves education, protects our national security, protects our food supply – and sustainable innovation, so that we may find new and creative ways to protect against AI’s risk and minimize the chances of this technology going off the rails, which would undermine innovation altogether.
The only way we’ll achieve this goal is by bringing a diverse group of perspectives together, from those who work every day on these systems, to those openly critical of many parts of AI and who worry about its effects on workers, on racial and gender bias, and more.
So I look forward to tomorrow’s conversation, the first of many we will have this fall. I expect we’ll hear a wide range of views and opinions and lots of dissenting views. That’s how it should be.
I want to thank every participant attending tomorrow’s forum.
Thank you also to Senators Rounds and Heinrich and Young, who helped organize tomorrow’s meeting.
And of course, I want to thank all my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who’ve recognized the urgency of AI.
The Senate is fully engaged in this issue, and is ready to do more. Our committees and subcommittees have already held no fewer than nine hearings on AI, with more happening this week, all on issues ranging from national security to human rights to IP and more.
We need all hands on deck if we want to maximize AI’s societal benefits, while minimizing its many risks. Tomorrow we’ll take the next step in this great undertaking, and I urge all my colleagues from both sides to attend.