WASHINGTON, D.C. – AI regulation is in the hands of “JCPenney leisure suit”-wearing lawmakers who still have “8-track tape players,” which could mean trouble, says one Republican lawmaker.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives took a small step toward building an AI regulatory framework by advancing the AI Accountability Act, which called for the government to study AI accountability and report back in 2025.
“Let a bunch of guys up here that are wearing JCPenney leisure suits that still have 8-track tape players in their ’72 Vegas start talking about technology, then you got some problems,” Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., told Fox News when asked about regulation keeping pace with innovation in the AI sector.
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“I don’t know that we need regulation,” Burchett said. “You want to stifle growth, you start putting laws on it.”
The Senate had another listening session on AI development last Wednesday, but many lawmakers agreed that Congress still doesn’t understand enough about AI yet to create regulations.
“Right now, we’re in the Wild West,” Connecticut Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal told Fox News. “AI enables, not only in effect, appropriation of creative products … but also impersonation, deepfakes, a lot of bad stuff. We need to invest in the kinds of restraints and controls if there’s a danger of AI becoming autonomous.”
“The problem with AI is that it’s advancing so fast,” Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said. “It’s very difficult to regulate because you don’t know what the next thing is going to be.”
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Artificial intelligence, a branch of computer science designed to understand and store human intelligence, has excelled in recent months as the tool increasingly mimics human capabilities. China and the European Union have drafted AI regulations this year, but Congress hasn’t passed any legislation since the tech’s rapid development started and as more critics voiced their concerns.
“If you overregulate, like the government often does, you stifle innovation,” Mace told Fox News. “And if we just stop AI, nothing is stopping China. We want to make sure that we are No. 1 in AI technology in the world and that it stays that way.”
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Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a Republican, told Fox News that AI will be great for the big corporations involved, but he questioned whether it would benefit everyday Americans.
“Will it be good, though, for the American people, for American workers?” he said.
AI advancements could reduce or eliminate 300 million jobs globally, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis published in March.
Up to 30% of hours currently worked across the U.S. economy could become automated by 2030, creating the possibility of around 12 million occupational transitions in the coming years, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study published in July. Lower-wage workers are up to 14 times more likely to need to change occupations than those in the highest-wage positions, and women are 1.5 times more likely to lose their jobs than men with continued AI development, the study found.
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“We can’t keep up with it,” California Democrat Rep. Robert Garcia said. “The way AI is being used is unbelievable.”
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Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said that “Congress doesn’t understand AI well enough right now to be promulgating regulation.”
“We need to start with the fact that there’s a lot associated with AI,” he said. “We need to start breaking those down and thinking about where we really think there’s an urgent need for regulation.”
To watch lawmakers’ full interviews, click here.
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