ICYMI: Politico Profiles Peters’ Leadership on Artificial Intelligence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) spoke with Politico about his work as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to ensure the federal government is responsibly using artificial intelligence (AI) to strengthen our national security, save taxpayer dollars and better serve the American people. Peters has long led efforts to establish the United States as a leader in developing AI, while addressing potential risks, so that we can harness the benefits of this technology, secure our global economic competitiveness and make sure that these tools are used in a way that aligns with our American values. A link to the article and key excerpts are below.

Politico: One Senator’s Big Idea for AI
By Brendan Bordelon
July 18, 2023

“While not a headline name in the broader conversation about AI in Washington, Peters — who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — pushed several AI bills through Congress in the years preceding this spring’s sudden hype cycle. He’s already sent two AI bills to the Senate floor this year. And last week Peters quietly introduced a third bill, the AI LEAD Act…

“His bills focus exclusively on the federal government, setting rules for AI training, transparency and how agencies buy AI-driven systems… ‘The government is going to be one of the largest purchasers of AI systems,’ said Daniel Ho, a member of the White House’s National AI Advisory Committee and associate director at Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI, ‘so the standard that it sets will have a pronounced impact on responsible AI innovation.’”

“The senator’s Transparent Automated Governance Act, which advanced out of his committee last month, would require agencies to be open about their AI use and create an appeals process for citizens who believe they’ve been wronged by an automated system.

“‘They operate in a fairly opaque fashion, it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly how they arrived at the ultimate decision that was made,’ Peters said. He called that particularly problematic on the government side, ‘where some federal AI systems may be making decisions related to benefits, for example.’

“If that bill becomes law, Peters believes those rules will eventually trickle out into the private sector.

“‘It allows us to test some of these ideas and see how it actually works in practice, and that could be a model for what we want to do broadly in the commercial side,’ Peters said.”

“In addition to the TAG Act, Peters has also pushed out of committee his AI Leadership Training Act, which would establish new AI training programs at federal agencies. Both bills have been sent to the Senate floor, where they await either a standalone vote or (more likely) inclusion in a must-pass package somewhere down the line.

“The most recent bill, Peters’ AI LEAD Act… would require federal agencies to appoint a ‘chief AI officer’ that serves as the point person on the acquisition and use of AI systems by that agency. It would also create a ‘chief AI officers council’ — modeled on similar interagency confabs for chief acquisition, information and data officers — that would meet regularly to swap notes and sketch out a government-wide AI strategy.”

“In 2019 Peters introduced the Deepfake Reports Act, legislation that directed the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an annual study of how AI is supercharging the quality of forged videos. The bill was signed into law as part of 2020’s year-end defense bill. Peters’ AI in Government Act, which tasked the Office of Management and Budget with crafting guidance on the agency use of AI, also became law in 2020.

“Last year’s sprawling CHIPS and Science Act included a Peters bill, the AI Scholarship-for-Service Act, that established a recruitment pipeline for AI experts at all levels of government. The senator’s AI Training for Acquisition Workforce Act, signed into law last September, required the creation of new training programs for federal workers that purchase and manage AI systems. And his Advancing American AI Act, included in last year’s defense bill, gave further guidance to OMB as it sketches out an agency-wide AI framework.”

“‘It’s important to get individual members acquainted with the issue and comfortable with the issues associated with AI, and then you can go broader and bigger,’ Peters said. ‘But you’ve got to start somewhere. And that’s what we’re doing.’”