The field of artificial intelligence (“AI”) is at a tipping point. Governments and industries are under increasing pressure to forecast and guide the evolution of a technology that promises to transform our economies and societies. In this series, our lawyers and advisors provide an overview of the policy approaches and regulatory frameworks for AI in jurisdictions around the world. Given the rapid pace of technological and policy developments in this area, the articles in this series should be viewed as snapshots in time, reflecting the current policy environment and priorities in each jurisdiction.
The following article examines the state of play in AI policy and regulation in the United States. The previous article in this series covered the European Union.
Future of AI Policy in the U.S.
U.S. policymakers are focused on artificial intelligence (AI) platforms as they explode into the mainstream. AI has emerged as an active policy space across Congress and the Biden Administration, as officials scramble to educate themselves on the technology while crafting legislation, rules, and other measures to balance U.S. innovation leadership with national security priorities.
Over the past year, AI issues have drawn bipartisan interest and support. House and Senate committees have held nearly three dozen hearings on AI this year alone, and more than 30 AI-focused bills have been introduced so far this Congress. Two bipartisan groups of Senators have announced separate frameworks for comprehensive AI legislation. Several AI bills—largely focused on the federal government’s internal use of AI—have also been voted on and passed through committees.
Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has announced plans to issue a comprehensive executive order this fall to address a range of AI risks under existing law. The Administration has also taken steps to promote the responsible development and deployment of AI systems, including securing voluntary commitments regarding AI safety and transparency from 15 technology companies.
Despite strong bipartisan interest in AI regulation, commitment from leaders of major technology companies engaged in AI R&D, and broad support from the general public, passing comprehensive AI legislation remains a challenge. No consensus has emerged around either substance or process, with different groups of Members, particularly in the Senate, developing their own versions of AI legislation through different procedures. In the House, a bipartisan bill would punt the issue of comprehensive regulation to the executive branch, creating a blue-ribbon commission to study the issue and make recommendations.
I. Major Policy & Regulatory Initiatives
Three versions of a comprehensive AI regulatory regime have emerged in Congress – two in the Senate and one in the House. We preview these proposals below.
A. SAFE Innovation: Values-Based Framework and New Legislative Process
In June, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a new bipartisan proposal—with Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Todd Young (R-IN), and Mike Rounds (R-SD)—to develop legislation to promote and regulate artificial intelligence. Leader Schumer proposed a plan to boost U.S. global competitiveness in AI development, while ensuring appropriate protections for consumers and workers.