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Booker highlights AI equity

Feb 29, 2024
Two people sit on white couches in conversation

Axios' Maria Cury and Sen. Cory Booker. Photo: Hector Emanuel for Axios

Sen. Cory Booker in an interview with Axios on Wednesday said he's confident the Senate's AI framework will reflect equity and civil rights discussions.

Why it matters: Congressional leaders are working to keep AI regulation efforts bipartisan, and a Senate report expected next month will give committees a roadmap for legislation.

Catch up quick: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, with the help of a bipartisan group of senators, held AI Insight Forums last year that are informing the framework.

  • Booker said he's "excited and encouraged" that in those discussions "there has been a real effort to include diverse voices, diverse input and to talk openly about these issues."
  • "I feel confident that these issues will be brought to the table and I hope will be done in an inclusive manner, reflective of legislation that's already out there."

For example, the Algorithmic Accountability Act would require companies to conduct bias impact assessments and create a public repository at the Federal Trade Commission of those systems.

  • Booker helped introduce the bicameral bill. Similar transparency efforts for social media companies have faced pushback.
  • "Of course, large corporations often are going to resist reasonable regulation," Booker said. "But I think there's a movement of consciousness growing in our country that we need to regulate the space."

The CREATE AI Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill Booker is also cosponsoring, would authorize the National AI Research Resource to boost participation in the technology's development.

  • Booker: "What I really don't want to see happen is this concentration of power. Some of these models, to build them out, we're now talking trillions of dollars and large amounts of money that make AI research difficult to do in a democratic way.
  • "That actually makes me fearful that we're going to lose out on, not just the diversity, but also getting the input of some of the brightest minds around the country that could help us think through these problems."
  • Booker said he hopes the bill will pass, given its national security and competitiveness implications, which tend to garner broad support.

The big picture: Earlier on Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus launched a policy series with a focus on equity and inclusion in the development and deployment of AI and its impact on Black Americans.

  • Rep. Yvette Clarke, who was appointed to a separate House AI working group, is also helping lead the CBC series.

What's next: CBC members in the coming weeks will use the policy series to identify AI bias and discrimination issues and help shape bicameral legislation

  • Rep. Steven Horsford pointed to key partners that will "ensure that the perspectives of the Black Caucus are taken into account with any policy that's advanced," including Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Booker.
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