Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Accountable Tec
More than 20 tech industry executives are meeting behind closed doors with U.S. senators on Wednesday as part of a deeper look at how Congress can regulate artificial intelligence.
Participants include Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. Executives from several AI companies, including Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, will also join the discussion.
The gathering is part of a series led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a bipartisan group of senators as part of a broader effort to craft groundbreaking AI legislation. Ahead of the first of his “AI Insight Forums,” Schumer argued that lawmakers must balance AI innovation in medicine, education and national security with the risks of the technology.
“The only way to achieve this goal is to bring together a diverse group of perspectives, from those who work on these systems every day to those who are openly critical of many aspects of AI and concerned about its effects on workers, on racial inequality and gender bias, and more,” Schumer said Tuesday from the Senate floor.
It would be one of the largest gatherings of U.S. tech executives in recent memory, and it follows a series of all-senator meetings on AI earlier this year that provided a baseline of information, including a classified briefing. The forums will focus on broader topics, with more forward-looking discussions on possible legislative pathways.
Wednesday’s forums will take place in a private Senate meeting room in two different sessions, morning and afternoon, which could last two to three hours each. A source close to the plans said more than 20 technology experts are expected to address senators in attendance.
Senators will hear from leaders of entertainment, labor and civil rights groups, including the president of the Motion Picture Association, the Writers Guild of America West, the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.
Other tech executives who will be in attendance include Google CEO Sundar Pichai, former company CEO Eric Schmidt, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and IBM CEO Arvind Krishna.
An IBM spokesperson shared a preview of Krishna’s remarks to senators, which included a push to regulate AI risks but not AI algorithms, hold AI creators and deployers accountable, and support open innovation in AI.
“We should not create a licensing regime for AI,” Krishna is expected to say. “A licensing agreement would inevitably favor large, well-funded incumbents and limit competition.”
Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler argued that workers must be at the heart of AI policy.
“Public support for unions is at near record levels because workers are tired of serving as guinea pigs in a live AI experiment,” Shuler said in a statement. “The labor movement knows that AI can empower workers and increase prosperity – but only if workers are at the center of its creation and the rules that govern it.
“Workers understand how to do their jobs better than any boardroom or algorithm. Make us full partners in this transformation.”
Despite this momentum, Congress faces an uphill battle in crafting AI legislation.
Historically, lawmakers have struggled to regulate emerging technologies, from the Internet to social media. AI is evolving rapidly and Congress lacks AI experts, forcing many members to learn more about the technology while simultaneously seeking to regulate it.
However, Schumer said they are doing the work necessary to catch up. New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich and Republican Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Todd Young, R-Ind. help lead this charge.
“Congress must recognize two things: that this effort must be bipartisan and that we need outside help if we are to write effective AI policies,” Schumer said Tuesday.
According to Schumer, this outside help must include industry developers, experts, critics and ethicists, as well as members of academia, defense and more.
“All of these groups, together in one room, are discussing why Congress needs to act, what questions to ask, and how to build consensus for safe innovation,” Schumer said.
Schumer also faces obstacles within Congress, with members on both sides trying to tackle their own proposals to regulate AI. Multiple congressional committees have jurisdiction over the issue, and Congress has easily held more than a dozen hearings on AI with many more to come.
This, as Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, has previously argued against excessive regulation. McCarthy said there was no need to create an agency to regulate AI, a popular idea among some Senate Democrats.