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Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Oversight of Artificial Intelligence

Durbin calls for Congress to swiftly act on oversight of AI

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law hearing entitled, “Oversight of A.I.: Rules for Artificial Intelligence.”

The bipartisan hearing, led by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT) and Hawley (R-MO), examined the development of artificial intelligence (AI) with a focus on what safeguards and oversight are necessary to minimize risks associated with the technology. The panel featured the first testimony before Congress by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and maker of ChatGPT.

Key Quotes:

“The basic question we face is whether or not this issue of AI is a quantitative change in technology or a qualitative change. The suggestions that I’ve heard from experts in the field suggest it’s qualitative. Is AI fundamentally different? Is it a game changer? Is it so disruptive that we need to treat it differently than other forms of innovation? That’s the starting point.”

“The second starting point is one that’s humbling. When you look at the record of Congress in dealing with innovation, technology, and rapid change, we’re not designed for that. In fact, the Senate was not created for that purpose but just the opposite – to slow things down, take a harder look at it, don’t react to public sentiment, and make sure you’re doing the right thing.”

“I’ve heard of the positive potential of AI, and it is enormous. You can go through lists of the deployment of technology that would say that an idea you sketch for a website on a napkin could create functioning code. Pharmaceutical companies could use the technology to identify new candidates to treat disease. The list goes on. And then, of course, the danger, and it’s profound as well.”

“I’m glad that this hearing is taking place, and I think it’s important for all of us to participate. I’m glad that it is a bipartisan approach. We’re going to have to scramble to keep up with this innovation in terms of our government and public response to it, but this is a great start.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.