Hoosier senator wants to prepare America for opportunities tied to artificial intelligence

January 2, 2018 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS — This story was written and edited by human beings using their education, training and experience to report on a newsworthy subject.

But perhaps in the not-too-distant future, a similar article will be composed by a machine, guided by artificial intelligence, or AI, and published with little to no human involvement or oversight.

What that world looks like — for journalism and every other American industry — is a major concern for U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

He recently observed that the United States has no federal policies regarding artificial intelligence, such as self-learning computers, and no federal agency is in charge of keeping track of how artificial intelligence is being used, for good or ill, throughout the country.

To change that, Young is co-sponsoring legislation titled Fundamentally Understanding the Usability and Realistic Evolution of Artificial Intelligence Act — or FUTURE of AI Act — that he hopes will begin the process of sorting out the economic opportunities and impacts that emerging AI technologies may have on American life.

“Artificial intelligence has the ability to drastically boost our economy,” Young said. “As Americans continue to interact with this technology every day, and as its capabilities expand, it’s important that we study and prepare for AI’s continued use in our society.”

His measure, which is awaiting action by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, puts the U.S. Department of Commerce in charge of leading federal policymaking on artificial intelligence.

It directs the commerce agency to create an advisory committee tasked with developing recommendations within 18 months on how the government and business can work together to address a variety of AI concerns.

Those include identifying how artificial intelligence will change the workplace and figuring out to train workers for AI impacts, protecting individual privacy rights as AI grows, promoting a climate of innovation and supporting the unbiased development and application of AI.

Young said the advisory committee will seek input from a wide array of sectors and perspectives, and consist of representatives from civil liberties groups, labor groups, research institutions and universities, technology companies, manufacturers, data scientists and federal officials, among others.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., the co-chairman of the House AI Caucus, has filed a similar proposal that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., sent to six committees that each have responsibility for a portion of what AI policy could impact.

Delaney said the fact that AI soon could be as positively disruptive to the economy as the steam engine, transistor or personal computer demands the federal government be proactive in overseeing its development and deployment.

“We should start working now so that AI is harnessed in a way that society benefits, that businesses benefit and that workers benefit,” Delaney said.