VIDEO: Tech on the Hill with Rep. John Delaney


Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) says he wants Congress to focus on issues of the future, and the future is artificial intelligence (AI). 

AI technologies are poised to disrupt everything from American military strategies to the skillsets needed by workers, Delaney said. But although U.S. companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. might lead the world in developing AI, the federal government lacks a national strategy akin to those already in place in Japan, China, and Canada, he said. 

“That struck me as a huge problem,” Delaney said in a recent video interview with Bloomberg Law. 

The founder and co-chair of the Congressional AI Caucus introduced legislation (H.R. 4625) in December to create the first national framework to oversee the budding technology. The bill would create a committee headed by the Department of Commerce to study the tech and make policy recommendations. The aim is promoting AI investment and retooling the U.S. workforce while curbing concerns about the tech’s potential to make bias decisions or violate privacy laws, he said. 

Delaney said the effort is critical as other countries seek to leapfrog the U.S.’s conventional military might with cyberattacks and AI-fueled strategies. America also needs to mitigate how AI capable of capturing and understanding children’s emotions could be used to manipulate advertisements or political messaging they see, he said.

But recent controversies spurred by AI technologies have created the prospect that the tech could be targeted by litigation and enforcement before there’s time to set a national policy.

A pedestrian death caused by a self-driving Uber Inc. vehicle, and the use of Facebook Inc.’s algorithms to spread foreign election propaganda have brought public worries about AI center stage. 

“Do I think we’re a little late? Obviously,” Delaney said.

Still, the strength of U.S. companies developing AI tech will help the federal government catch up, he said. 

“I wish we would’ve started earlier, but I think we’ll be fine,” Delaney said.