Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke today outside of the Senate’s inaugural AI Insight Forum, which he hosted along with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Senator Todd Young (R-IN). Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
We come out of that room exhilarated. This was an amazing and historic experience where we learned so much, where we began our quest to deal with this so important looming issue: AI.
We had a diverse group of participants. They talked to each other unvarnished. Everyone learned from everybody else. And so I am really pleased; as some of the people who came out said, that it was historic.
We got some consensus on some things.
First, I asked everyone in the room, is government needed to play a role in regulating AI, and every single person raised their hands, even though they had diverse views. So that gives us a message here that we have to try to act, as difficult as the process may be.
Second, it was clear that there needed to be some government help to deal with what we call transformational innovation, the kind of innovation that AI could bring that could do so much good. Bill Gates talked about feeding the hungry. One of the others talked about curing cancer. Some of the people in the room talked about strengthening our national security and defense, and feeding the hungry. But there was a view, one person said we need a lot of money, $32 billion, into transformational innovation, the kind of stuff that maximizes the benefits of AI, but it was also clear that we needed real help in sustainable innovation. That's minimizing the negatives that could emerge from AI, whether it's enshrining bias or the loss of jobs, or even the kinds of doomsday scenarios that were mentioned in the room.
And only government can be there to put in guardrails. Because even though some of the companies in this room said they were going to try to implement some of these things themselves, and many had joined the voluntary guidelines that the White House issued, it's clear that there will be rogue companies and other companies that will not go along on their own, and that will bring down everybody; they'll go seek the lowest common denominator.
So it is 100% clear that we also need, maybe even more, government innovation in coming up with sustainable guidelines, which means the government putting guardrails in place to deal with issues like bias and worker education and jobs, and even some of the more doomsday scenarios that were presented.
And finally, I think there was a consensus we need to figure out a way to balance the two. You don't want one to too much get in the way of the other. You want to be able to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms, and that will be our difficult job. It was great – over 60 Senators came, which showed the interest. You don't usually get 60 senators to come and spend a lot of time at an event like this, and one of the best things about this is a vast majority of the Senate walked out of that room knowing a lot more about how we deal with AI than when they walked in.