Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., have introduced long-awaited legislation to create a national commission that would focus on regulating AI technologies.

On the heels of the House debut of the bill, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, will be introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

The National AI Commission Act would create a commission that would review the United States’ current approach to AI regulation, make recommendations on any new necessary office or governmental structure, and develop a risk-based framework for AI.

The commission would be comprised of 20 experts from civil society, government, industry, and labor.

“[AI] is doing amazing things for our society. It can also cause significant harm if left unchecked and unregulated. Congress must not stay on the sidelines,” Rep. Lieu said in a statement. “The National AI Commission Act brings together experts in civil society, government, industry, labor, and more to make recommendations on the best ways to move forward on AI regulation.”

Introduction of the legislation follows Rep. Lieu’s continued effort to push for a better understanding of AI capabilities to formulate regulations for the technology. Most recently, Rep. Lieu introduced legislation that would direct the House to look at AI regulation.

However, according to Rep. Lieu, there is not a clear understanding or consensus on AI amongst lawmakers currently.

“We must also be humble and acknowledge that there is much we as Members of Congress don’t know about AI,” the California congressman said. “Transparency is critical when legislating on something as complicated as AI, and this bipartisan commission will provide policymakers and the American public with the basis and reasoning for the recommendations and what information was relied upon.”

The legislation directs the commission to focus on three areas:

  • Review of the Federal government’s current approach to AI;
  • Recommendations for new governmental structures needed to oversee and regulate AI systems; and
  • Efforts to build upon previous Federal and international efforts and best practices to develop a binding risk-based approach.

In addition, the legislation directs the commission to submit three separate reports.

An interim report, to be submitted six months after establishing the commission, would include proposals for urgent regulatory or enforcement actions. At the one-year mark, the commission would submit its final report of findings and recommendations for a comprehensive, binding regulatory framework.

A year after the final report, the commission would submit a follow-up report with new findings and revised recommendations. The follow-up report would also include necessary adjustments to further developments.

“AI technology holds lots of potential, but it comes with real risks,” said Sen. Schatz. “We need a better understanding of how we can take advantage of these new technologies and do so in a responsible way.”

“As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus, I understand how complex the issue of artificial intelligence is. The National AI Commission Act is an important first step to bring together stakeholders and experts to better understand how we can regulate AI and what guardrails must be in place as AI becomes more prevalent across society,” said Rep. Eshoo.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.