The Hill

By Rebecca Klar

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) bill that would direct federal agencies to create standards aimed at providing transparency and accountability for AI tools, according to a copy of the bill released Wednesday. 

The bipartisan Artificial Intelligence Research, Innovation, and Accountability Act of 2023, will define terms related to generative AI, including what is considered “critical-impact,” as well as create standards for AI systems to follow. 

Notably, the bill would set in place a system to require “critical-impact” AI organizations to self-certify as meeting compliance standards. 

The proposal would task the Commerce Department with submitting a five-year plan for testing and certifying critical-impact AI. The department would also be required to regularly update the plan. 

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), would also direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop standards for the authenticity of online content.

NIST would also be tasked with developing recommendations to agencies for technical, risk-based guardrails on “high-impact” AI systems. Companies deploying “high-impact” AI systems would be required to submit transparency reports to the Commerce Department. 

The bill would also provide new definitions for terms such as “generative” and “high-impact” AI systems, as well as a clear distinction between “developer” and “deployer” of AI systems for purposes of meeting the new requirements. 

Thune said AI is a “revolutionary technology” with the potential to improve health care, agriculture, supply chains and “countless other industries.” 

“As this technology continues to evolve, we should identify some basic rules of the road that protect consumers, foster an environment in which innovators and entrepreneurs can thrive, and limit government intervention. This legislation would bolster the United States’ leadership and innovation in AI while also establishing common-sense safety and security guardrails for the highest-risk AI applications,” Thune said in a statement. 

Klobuchar, who also sponsored bipartisan AI legislation focused on political ads, said the new bill is “one important step of many necessary towards addressing potential harms.” 

“It will put in place common sense safeguards for the highest-risk applications of AI — like in our critical infrastructure — and improve transparency for policy makers and consumers,” she said in a statement. 

It is the latest AI bill to emerge in recent months since generative AI technology became more popular over the past year, especially since OpenAI’s ChatGPT launched last year.

In September, Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) unveiled an AI framework that would require AI companies to apply for licenses. 

The bills are being introduced as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) continues to convene AI Insight Forums that bring in industry stakeholders and experts to discuss the risks and benefits of AI with senators in a closed-door meetings.

Schumer said the forums are meant to supplement work from committees producing legislation about AI.