Govern AI to help people

U.S. lawmakers should govern AI to help people, not Big Tech companies’ interests

Human rights must be at the core of artificial intelligence (AI) policy. Following last week’s release by U.S. Senate leadership of an industry-friendly AI policy framework, Access Now, with a coalition of civil society organizations, academics, and institutions is endorsing a formal response urging lawmakers to center human rights by committing to the regulatory guardrails urgently needed to protect against AI’s harmful effects on the public. The shadow report by the coalition, Put the Public in the Driver’s Seat: Shadow Report to the US Senate AI Policy Roadmap, highlights fundamental gaps in the Senate’s roadmap to AI policy and offers an alternative vision for how U.S. lawmakers can create an AI policy agenda that prioritizes people’s digital rights over the industry’s interests. 

AI technologies are rapidly reshaping our society, but without stringent regulations, they pose devastating risks, particularly to marginalized communities. The Senate’s recent AI policy framework, while well-intentioned and seemingly a step forward, does not mitigate the existing harms of AI people are currently facing. The shadow report published by civil society is a wake-up call for lawmakers to place human rights at the forefront of AI policy. It is crucial that public interest, not corporate influence, drives the future of AI legislation in the U.S. Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Counsel for Access Now

Civil society has largely criticized the recently released Senate roadmap Driving U.S. Innovation in Artificial Intelligence: A Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence Policy in the United States Senate, citing that the process is prioritizing Big Tech and defense interests while sidelining human rights and social justice issues such as bias, discrimination, and privacy. Alarmingly, references to “bias” were made only three times in the 30-page report, two of which were in the appendix. 

The shadow report highlights the already evident harms of AI on marginalized people and communities. It includes links to 206 resources, offering a substantial body of evidence to inform and shape effective public policy, and urges the U.S. Congress to move forward swiftly to pass enforceable laws addressing racial justice, immigration, AI accountability, labor rights, privacy and surveillance, competition, consumer protection, democracy, industrial policy, climate change, and poverty.

Civil society’s shadow report on the Senate’s AI roadmap highlights the governing body’s failure to adequately ensure that people in the U.S. are protected from the harmful effects of AI. Lawmakers must act swiftly to pass effective and enforceable laws that ensure AI technologies benefit all members of society, especially those most vulnerable. Michael De Dora, U.S. Policy and Advocacy Manager for Access Now