Ranking Member Connolly’s Opening Statement at Subcommittee Hearing Examining Biden-Harris Administration’s AI Policy

Dec 6, 2023
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (December 6, 2023)—Below is Ranking Member Gerald E. Connolly’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation hearing examining the Biden-Harris Administration’s artificial intelligence (AI) policy.

 

 

Opening Statement

Ranking Member Gerald E. Connolly

Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation

Hearing on “White House Policy on AI”

December 6, 2023

 

A Qualcomm report published just last week estimates the total economic benefit of generative AI amounts to roughly between $6.1 trillion to $7.9 trillion annually.  So, what does this AI-infused global economy look like?  We already know virtual AI assistants like Alexa and Siri.  Lesser-known use cases include helping scientists develop clinical drugs to treat pulmonary fibrosis; defending bank customers from identity fraud; and improving traffic congestion for communities across the world. 

 

With these incredible advancements, AI also brings risks.  In 2017, researchers set out to train an AI model to identify cancerous lesions using clinical images.  While researchers initially hailed this experiment a success, they later realized their algorithm’s “diagnoses” were not informed by the lesion in the photo, but rather by the presence of a dermatologist’s ruler used to measure particularly concerning skin lesions.  This error was a matter of life and death.

 

The United States must continue to invest in AI R&D and address these issues to solidify itself as a global leader.  Ten years ago, machines struggled to reliably identify images, and today national militaries are using AI analysis of satellite imagery to determine missile and artillery strikes.  AI has also grown its ability to understand and respond to language to the point where even members of Congress are using ChatGPT.

 

Over the past ten years, the private sector has invested $249 billion into AI development and the world’s top five AI companies are headquartered in the U.S.  On the public side, the National Science Foundation has announced a $140 million investment to establish seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes and advance a cohesive approach to AI-related opportunities and risks.  In addition, agencies like the National Institutes of Health invested $5.9 million into the University of Virginia to fund research into how artificial intelligence can support care for diverse populations.  These investments are critical, but the AI race remains competitive.  If the U.S. fails to continue to support investment in this technology, we will be left behind by the rest of the world. 

 

While traditional research and development tools like data and training models can improve technology, so can federal government leadership in setting standards, guidance, and regulatory frameworks.  Establishing clear and transparent rules of the road builds trust with the public and establishes users’ security and privacy protections.

 

AI regulatory frameworks around the world will reflect the values of their own governments and societies, and these nascent frameworks matter because they will influence future iterations of AI innovations.  In China, for example, the government requires AI companies to “uphold core socialist values” in providing their service.  It is essential, therefore, that the United States lead in AI governance, or the nation risks ceding foundational control to adversarial forces eager to influence the future of AI.

 

President Biden’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, along with OMB’s draft Implementation Guidance, do just that.  These frameworks lead a comprehensive society-wide effort to ensure AI best serves and protects the American people.  The President’s E.O. builds on the important action this Administration has taken on AI to date, including the creation of the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) AI Risk Management Framework.

 

As the representative of the Silicon Valley of the East, I support provisions in the E.O. to bolster our federal AI workforce.  The President is accelerating the hiring of AI professionals, while simultaneously offering AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields, so that agency personnel are ready to confront the challenges of today and tomorrow.

 

President Biden’s Executive Order and OMB’s draft Implementation Guidance are essential for implementing this technology safely and responsibly across the federal government and society broadly.  Congress, industry, and the Administration must now work together to ensure the nation meets the important goals of the Executive Order, and to continually seek, define, and measure improved regulatory thresholds as this technology evolves.   This Subcommittee looks forward to working with all stakeholders to encourage the safe and responsible development and use of AI.  

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118th Congress