Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., and Pete Olson, R-Texas – both co-chairs of the Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus – on Oct. 23 stumped for the AI in Government Act of 2020 (H.R. 2575) that passed the House last month and now sits on Senate general legislative calendar awaiting possible action.

Rep. McNerney, a sponsor of the House, talked about the measure at an Institute for Security and Technology (IST) virtual conference.

First, the bill will create a Center of Excellence (CoE) within the General Services Administration that will help agencies adopt AI technologies, and coordinate AI adoption across government. Second, it will require agencies to develop governance plans to guide their AI adoption and use. And third, it will make it easier for the Federal government to attract AI talent, the congressman said.

“Artificial intelligence presents many opportunities for the Federal government to better serve Americans, but there are certain risks that AI presents as Federal agencies adopt AI technology,” Rep. McNerney said. “They need to be equipped with the expertise and tools they need that these agencies address the potential risks of adopting the technology.”

Rep. Olson said that lawmakers have to make sure “people understand what [AI] can do and what it can’t do – what the challenges are.”

“Our motto is: educate, then legislate. And I’m happy to have this education right now, just because … AI is our future,” Rep. Olson said. “It’s something to be scared of, there are biases and ethical issues, but the bottom line, unless we engage quickly and get stepping out at least at the Federal level, we’ll be overtaken by China and other nations.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.