May 9, 2023, 6:28pm EDT
politicsNorth America

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman set to visit Congress

REUTERS/Florence Lo

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The News

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, will visit the U.S. Capitol next week to brief members on artificial intelligence — the latest attempt by House leadership to get lawmakers up to speed on the rapidly evolving technology.

“We'll continue this to make sure we educate everybody on it," Speaker Kevin McCarthy told Semafor on Wednesday.

McCarthy took members to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a crash course on artificial intelligence last year. In April, House leadership hosted an all-members’ briefing on AI with Profs. Antonio Torralba and Aleksander Madry of MIT, which members characterized as an “AI 101 course.”

“It was a good description of the complexities of AI processing. That’s what I got out of it,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. told Semafor last month.

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Kadia's view

Members have publicly acknowledged that Congress has been slow to regulate AI, forcing it to play catchup as it becomes increasingly apparent existing laws weren’t written for the technology.


Members of the growing House AI Caucus have taken the lead on demystifying AI with their own briefings, but there’s also a bipartisan effort on the part of House leadership that signals their own sense of urgency.  Experts and congressional staff suggest regulatory legislation could pass in the House and Senate within six months to a year.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ted Lieu, D- Calif., a member of the AI Caucus, introduced the Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous Artificial Intelligence that would prohibit any federal funds to be used to change policy around human involvement in the launch of nuclear weapons.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. previewed limited details of a framework his office said could be used to craft regulatory legislation. Separately, about a dozen senators convened last week for an AI briefing from Arati Prabhakar, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a source familiar told Semafor.

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Room for Disagreement

It isn’t clear how or when, even with deep immersion in the subject, Congress will be able to grapple with crafting new legislation on AI.

“Congress has really struggled to regulate technology and emerging technology like AI,” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. told Semafor back in February, and the field has moved rapidly ahead since then.  Politicians have likewise found it hard to keep up with, let alone find consensus on, issues such as cryptocurrencies or even social media — even decades after they took the world by storm.

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The View From Beijing

China rolled out new rules in January aimed at curbing the spread of misinformation and deepfakes posted on social media and warned the public in February to be wary of "rumors" generated by ChatGPT.

On Sunday, police in northwestern China said they arrested a man who allegedly admitted to using ChatGPT to create fake news and spread it online. It appeared to be the first time Beijing detained a citizen for using the chatbot.


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