Senate Will Get Crash Course In AI This Fall, Says Schumer

Image by IBM

Head over to our on-demand library to view sessions from VB Transform 2023. Register Here

This fall, U.S. Senators will be going back to school — with a crash course in AI that will include at least nine forums — and possibly even more — with top experts on copyright, workforce issues, national security, high risk AI models, existential risks, privacy, transparency and explainability, and elections and democracy.

At a TechNYC event held at IBM’s New York City headquarters yesterday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he would convene a series of AI ‘Insight Forums’ to “lay down the foundation for AI policy.” The first-ever forums, to be held in September and October, are in place of congressional hearings, with their focus on Senator questions, which Schumer said would not work for AI’s complex issues when it comes to finding a path forward towards AI legislation and regulation.

We want to have the best of the best…talking to one another and answering questions, trying to come to some consensus and some solutions,” he explained, “while senators and our staffs and others just listen.”

AI-focused forums will include top AI leaders and skeptics

Schumer announced the forums, led by a bipartisan group of four Senators, last month, as well as his SAFE Innovation Framework for AI Policy. He said there will be a ‘kickoff’ forum where “most of the leaders in the AI industry and some of the skeptics have agreed to come…they’ll spend a whole day batting this around with each other about where and when government should play a role.”


VB Transform 2023 On-Demand

Did you miss a session from VB Transform 2023? Register to access the on-demand library for all of our featured sessions.

Register Now

But Schumer emphasized that when the forums conclude, “we won’t have a wrestling match” — instead, he wants a consensus or at least a path forward on AI legislation.

“AI is unlike anything we’ve dealt with before,” he said. “It may be difficult for legislation to tackle every single one of these issues…but the key word is we go forward on this, because it’s so difficult.”

That includes tackling complex issues around protecting America’s workforce in the wake of AI development, he pointed out, harking to the political backlash of globalization.

“I believe that we cannot make the same mistake we made with globalization,” he said. “While we look back 30 years, globalization increased world wealth, no question about it. But so many people were hurt by it and nothing was done for them. That created frankly a political backlash which we’re living with today.”

Schumer addresses AI transparency and explainability of ‘black box’ models

VentureBeat asked Schumer how he would address AI transparency and explainability when it comes to ‘black box’ models from companies like OpenAI and Anthropic — given details about architecture (including model size), hardware, training compute, dataset construction, or training method are not available for models like GPT-4.

“That’s something we have to look at,” he said. “You don’t want them to give up their whole intellectual property. And open [source] AI…bad people [can] use it. But on the other hand, we can’t just have three companies dominate the whole thing. So this is one of the biggest questions we have to answer.”

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.