On February 27th, Reps. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution emphasizing the need to ethically develop artificial intelligence (“AI”). H. RES. 153, titled “Supporting the development of guidelines for ethical development of artificial intelligence,” calls on the government to work with stakeholders to ensure that AI is developed in a “safe, responsible, and democratic” fashion. The resolution has nine Democratic sponsors and was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Encouraging Ethical AI
Congress has taken an interest in the ethical challenges posed by AI in recent years. It has hosted discussions on issues pertaining to AI bias, fairness, safety, transparency, and accountability, and members of the Senate have introduced legislation that would empower committees to study ethical dilemmas.
Although H. RES. 153 does not have the force of law, the resolution marks the most concrete effort of either Chamber to describe the characteristics of ethical AI to date. The resolution “supports the development of guidelines” that are consistent with the following aims:
- Engagement among industry, government, academia, and civil society.
- Transparency and explainability of AI systems, processes, and implications.
- Helping to empower women and underrepresented or marginalized populations.
- Information privacy and the protection of one’s personal data.
- Career opportunity to find meaningful work and maintain a livelihood.
- Accountability and oversight for all automated decisionmaking.
- Lifelong learning in STEM, social sciences, and humanities.
- Access and fairness regarding technological services and benefits.
- Interdisciplinary research about AI that is safe and beneficial.
- Safety, security, and control of AI systems now and in the future.
The resolution also requires the government to develop ethical guidelines “in consultation with diverse stakeholders” such as businesses, universities, and nongovernmental organizations.
Increased Governmental Focus on AI
This resolution is another indicia of increasing government interest and involvement in AI development. The resolution specifically positions itself as a means of supporting the 2017 Charlevoix Common Vision for the Future of Artificial Intelligence—a commitment from G7 countries to encourage human-centric “AI that fosters economic growth, societal trust, gender equality and inclusion.”
It also coincides with other recent announcements signaling the U.S. government’s growing focus on AI. Earlier this month, for instance, President Trump signed an Executive Order launching a coordinated federal government AI strategy, and the Department of Defense published a strategy for accelerating the adoption of AI-enabled capabilities.