Nov 28, 2023 - Technology

Senator: D.C.'s AI forums stay non-partisan, for now

Senator Todd Young being interviewed by Axios co-founder Mike Allen at the Axios AI+ DC Summit

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) in conversation with Axios' Mike Allen at Axios' AI+ Summit in Washington, D.C. Nov. 28. Photo: Eric Lee/Axios

The debates at the Senate-organized AI Insight Forums in D.C. have been surprisingly non-partisan, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) told Axios' Mike Allen at Axios' AI+ Summit in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

Driving the news: Young is one of the hosts of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's series of discussions about AI including key political and industry figures. The next forum will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and will cover copyright.

  • The forums are kept private in order to get franker testimony from participants.

Between the lines: Young took an early interest in AI and has worked across the aisle to push tech legislation before, including the CHIPS-plus bill in 2022.

What they're saying: Young says he expected there'd be more disagreement over the role the government should play in AI innovation during the Insight Forums.

  • "I've been encouraged and frankly a little surprised.... There haven't been very significant disagreements," he said.
  • "We invited techno-libertarians. We invited leaders of organized labor. Yes, there are disagreements, but they agree on the essentials," Young said.

Context: Young says he regularly uses generative AI and encourages his staff to do the same. "But as with any tool, they're responsible for the end product," Young says.

  • Young is not an AI doomer, but neither would he call himself a "techno-optimist."
  • "I'd say I have tempered optimism," Young said. "[My] optimism is tempered by the significant risks of the democratization of this technology.... There aren't that many doomsday scenarios, but there are enough to focus the mind."

What's next: Young acknowledges that the AI Insight Forums might not sustain bipartisan collaboration.

  • "The issue of labor could be one [issue] where we see some disagreements, but I haven't seen those fault lines yet," he said.

Go deeper: Bipartisan Senate group looks to tackle AI legislation.

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