Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today opened the Senate’s second AI Insight Forum. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you to my colleagues in our bipartisan AI gang – Senators Rounds, Heinrich, and Young – who have helped make these bipartisan forums possible.
And I want to take a moment to wish my friend, Senator Rounds, a very happy birthday! Thanks for spending your birthday with us talking about AI innovation – it really shows how dedicated you are to this issue!
Thanks also to my Senate colleagues for making the time to be here even for part of the afternoon, despite their busy schedules. We had strong bipartisan turnout at our inaugural forum, and it’s good to see the same thing again today. It underscores how bipartisan and how seriously we are taking this issue here in the Senate.
And that emphasis on bipartisanship is one of the core values of these AI Insight Forums, and our AI effort more broadly.
Finally, I want to thank all of our participants.
A gathering like this is rare in Congress. In this room sit some of the nation’s leading voices in labor, academia, business, tech, civil rights, and others, to hold an unvarnished, candid, and urgent debate on AI.
AI will reshape practically every corner of life, so we need voices from every corner of life here at the table.
That’s why it’s been a top priority for us to assemble a balanced, diverse, and wide-ranging group for today’s debate.
I’m really excited about today, because we will focus on what I have called our North Star for AI: innovation.
Our discussion will be divided into four main topics:
First, driving and sustaining U.S. leadership on AI through funding, led by Senator Rounds.
Second, mechanisms to spur private sector AI innovation, led by Senator Heinrich.
Third, the need for transformational innovation, led by Senator Young.
And finally, I will lead the discussion about the need for sustainable innovation.
During our inaugural Insight Forum, I asked everyone in the room – experts, critics, developers – to raise their hand if they agreed government must be involved in regulating AI. Every single hand went up.
I suspect that if I asked the same question today, we would get the same result.
On one hand, AI could be our most spectacular innovation yet – a force that can ignite a new era of technological advancement, scientific discovery, and industrial might.
But we all know “innovation” means more than new medicines or discoveries: we also need innovation to solve AI’s most vexing challenges—how to make it more explainable, how to make it more accountable, and ensure it aligns with our shared values. To do this, we must emphasize innovation.
Finally, if people believe AI innovation is not managed safely – if no guardrails are put in place – it could stifle or even halt innovation altogether.
So for Congress to promote SAFE AI Innovation, we need to focus on innovation in two senses:
First, “transformative” innovation: we need to invest in systems that will create new vistas, unlock new cures, improve education, protect national security, protect the global food supply, and more.
And second, “sustainable” innovation: innovations that can solve the deep challenges of AI – like increasing transparency and security, and reducing bias and risk – and support effective guardrails that minimize the risks of AI and maximize the benefits to all of us.
We need to prioritize both. We must find a balance between innovation and guardrails.
Finding that balance won’t be easy, but it’s essential.
Congress cannot find that balance by ourselves. That’s why we brought you all here today: we need to hear from you on how to encourage SAFE innovation.
During these forums, our jobs as legislators will be to listen and learn from you, and to use these insights to supplement the bipartisan work already happening in Committees.
So, thank you all for being here. I look forward to our discussion, and to working with you all on this issue moving forward.