Are We Letting AI Regulate Itself?February 6, 2023
Artificial intelligence (“AI”) has become ingrained into our daily lives. It is involved every time we conduct a Google search, open Instagram, or unlock our phones with facial recognition. Despite the growing impact of AI on society, Congress has so far adopted a hands-off approach leaving AI development unchecked and deployment unregulated. However, Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) is calling for a change.
In an op-ed recently published by Representative Lieu in The New York Times, it was expressed that “[t]he rapid advancements in artificial intelligence technology have made it clear that the time to act is now, to ensure that AI is used in ways that are safe, ethical, and beneficial for society. Failure to do so may lead to a future where the risks of AI far outweigh its benefits.” This was not written by Representative Lieu. It was written by ChatGPT, an artificial language model introduced to the public by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based startup, in November 2022. ChatGPT is a free AI-powered chatbot that generates human-sounding responses based on user-inputted text prompts. Lieu simply entered “[w]rite an attention grabbing first paragraph of an Op-Ed on why artificial intelligence should be regulated” and ChatGPT quickly generated the statement in a matter of seconds.
The rapid advancements in artificial intelligence technology have made it clear that the time to act is now, to ensure that AI is used in ways that are safe, ethical, and beneficial for society. Failure to do so may lead to a future where the risks of AI far outweigh its benefits.
The rise of AI and tools like ChatGPT have raised concerns across industries about the potential misuse now that the public has free and easy access. Educators have expressed great worry that ChatGPT will be used by students to plagiarize their work. Students can simply input their homework questions or essay prompt, like Representative Lieu did when writing his op-ed, and ChatGPT will do the assignment for them. Google recently declared a “code red” after the release of ChatGPT fearing that the new AI tool will replace the search engine. There is no longer a need to google something and search through endless websites to find your answer. Now, a question can be inputted into ChatGPT and a direct answer will immediately be given.
To address the growing concerns of AI, Representative Lieu, who is one of the three representatives with a computer science degree, introduced legislation calling for Congress to focus on AI regulation. The resolution highlights Congress’ responsibility “to ensure that the development and deployment of AI is done in a way that is safe, ethical, and respects the rights and privacy of all Americans, and that the benefits of AI are widely distributed and the risks are minimized.”
Representative Lieu’s historic resolution is the first piece of federal legislation written by AI. ChatGPT crafted the entire resolution after Representative Lieu prompted the AI chatbot with the task by inputting “[y]ou are Congressman Ted Lieu. Write a comprehensive congressional resolution generally expressing support for Congress to focus on AI.” Again, the chatbot produced the resolution in mere seconds. Nowhere in the resolution does it indicate that it was written using AI.
Representative Lieu’s historic resolution is the first piece of federal legislation written by AI.
In addition to the resolution he introduced on January 26, Representative Lieu plans to call for the creation of a nonpartisan AI congressional commission. Lieu wants to form the commission as a first step to the creation of a federal agency dedicated to AI regulation. The commission would provide recommendations on how to structure a federal agency to regulate AI, types of AI in need of regulation, and what standards should apply. Representative Lieu would like to see the formation of a separate agency because it better suits the needs of regulating ever-changing technological advancements. Agencies can be staffed with AI experts, are “nimbler than the legislative process,” and “can reverse its decisions if it makes an error.” It is impractical and impossible for Congress to create individual laws regulating each specific use of AI because the possibilities are infinite, and the legislative process is simply too slow to keep up.
AI technology is only going to become increasingly accessible and powerful. The time for regulation is now. If Congress does not act, it will allow the AI industry to continue to self-regulate and risk society turning into a dystopian state.
Dorothy McGee is a second-year law student from Concord, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021 with a degree in Public Policy and Economics and a minor in African American and Diaspora Studies. In law school, Dorothy is a staff member on the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology and a competing member on Holderness Moot Court’s Appellate Advocacy Team.