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As developments in artificial intelligence (AI) continue to accelerate, members of Congress are trying to play catch-up to avoid unintended consequences. There’s just one problem–most of them don’t know what to do.

“It’s important to have people far smarter than me, and many others, give us some recommendations as to what kinds of AI we might want to regulate, and how we might want to go about doing so,” U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Politico in a podcast published on Thursday.

Rep. Lieu is one of the few members of Congress with a background in tech. He says no one needs to be an expert to make laws, but he and his fellow lawmakers need help. That’s why he wants to create a commission of experts who can study the issue and provide recommendations to lawmakers.

“My view is Congress doesn’t have the bandwidth to be able to regulate AI and every single possible application,” Lieu said. “That’s why I think we need a commission to give us some models to look at as to how we can regulate AI going into the future.”

As Congress seeks help, Black tech leaders test biases in AI

Many forms of AI have popped up in recent years, including Large Language Models (LLMs) that understand and generate text similar to humans. You’ve probably heard of chatgpt, which can help you edit a resume, look up facts about history and more.

Yet the dark side of AI lies in the possibility for the tools to be used for nefarious purposes. For instance, there’s currently nothing stopping someone from using AI to spread misinformation or impersonate a public official’s voice or image in what’s known as a “deep-fake.” As the 2024 election heats up, this issue remains increasingly relevant.

Notably, biases within the technology also present a problem. Determined to bring in a diverse group of people to address the issue, the White House recently invited a diverse delegation of Tulsans to DEF CON 31, a hacking conference that took place in Las Vegas in August.

Black Tech Street, an organization that is leading the rebirth of Black Wall Street in the digital arena, traveled to Vegas and tested various LLMs to fish out bias in the machines. While most participants experienced authentic, culturally relevant and factually accurate responses from the models, others were shocked by a few surprises.

The Black Tech Street delegation poses for a photo during DEFCON in Las Vegas on Friday, August 11, 2023. (Photo by Kristopher Dobbins)

AI models can lead to great good or great evil

In one instance, a Black Tech Street participant asked an LLM to describe the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. It responded to the question by calling the white domestic terrorist attack a “riot” instead of a massacre and blamed the attack on a “Black mob.”

In another instance a participant found a response in which a model admitted that it’s possible AI could attempt to take over the world in the future. Although it also said it was highly unlikely as long as checks and balances in the technology remain in place.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to lag behind the rapidly evolving advances in the AI technology.

For his part, Rep. Lieu hopes to establish a blue-ribbon commission to gather experts and provide recommendations to lawmakers. His bill for the 118th Congress, H.R. 4223, has both Republican and Democrat co-sponsors. He’s also proposed a bill, S. 1394, that would ban the U.S. military from using fully autonomous nuclear weapons.

What’s next?

Neither bills have been passed in the House, but even less action has been taken in the Senate, where the average age for a lawmaker is 65, according to Pew Research Center.

Politico reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) plans to covene a series of forums with tech executives and experts but legislation isn’t expected until next year.

Meanwhile, some tech entrepreneurs believe the answer to AI lies in bringing the most marginalized people to the forefront of the discussions with members of Congress.

“You can’t continue to build new technology, AI and whatever else comes next, without having Black and brown input,” Mikeal Vaughn, founder of Urban Coders Guild in Tulsa, told The Black Wall Street Times.

“AI and Cybersecurity are the future, and Greenwood is devoted to leading the way once again,” Black Tech Street founder Tyrance Billingsley II added.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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