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AI Regulation By The US Government: What Private Companies Should Know

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Growing Support for AI Regulation

In the United States, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) drives an escalating race between the U.S. government and the private companies under its jurisdiction. Stanford University reports that private investment in AI more than doubled from 2020 to 2021, while the federal government scrambled to keep pace. Although the legislative record shows a 30 percent increase in the number of federal-level bills with AI provisions from 2020 to 2021, only 2 percent were passed into law.

What does this mean? The use of AI by companies in the U.S. remains largely unregulated at the federal level, but this may soon change. Although the federal legislature is divided on AI, state lawmakers have rallied in support of regulation. About 20 percent of the state-level AI-related bills proposed in 2021 became law. Furthermore, support for AI regulation crosses regional and partisan lines. Forty-one of 50 states proposed at least one AI-related bill in 2021, totaling 131 state-level bills sponsored by 79 Democrats and 40 Republicans.

The adoption of AI by private companies and AI regulation by state regulatory bodies puts pressure on federal lawmakers. A 2021 report by the Congressional Research Service notes that Congress has been “increasingly engaged [...] working to address policy concerns arising from AI development and use.” Top concerns include the impact of AI-enabled automation on the workforce, standards and testing protocol for AI systems, and AI-related ethics considerations.

A History of Mixed Signals

Historically, the U.S. government has taken a nuanced, multi-faceted approach to AI regulation⁠—investing heavily in the “smart” technology while also voicing concersn about its potential to create regulatory challenges. For example, Jason Furman, the Chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, wrote: “The biggest worry I have about AI is that we will not have enough of it,[1]” while President Obama himself cautioned, “as technologies [like AI] emerge and mature, figuring out how they get incorporated into existing regulatory structures becomes a tougher problem, and the govern­ment needs to be involved a little bit more.[2]

Ultimately, it’s unclear what path the U.S. government will choose. Will caution inspire a regulatory crackdown? Or, will economic interests spark greater investment? The answer could be both or neither.

One thing is certain: private companies should be prepared for anything. We recommend staying “ahead of the curve” by engaging in proactive activities such as tracking legislative developments, communicating with government representatives, and considering the impact of AI-use from a multifaceted, diverse perspective.

For more information, visit www.synaptiq.ai


About Synaptiq

Synaptiq is a Portland, Oregon-based artificial intelligence and data consulting firm with a strong commitment to ethics and “human-first” innovation. Our team approaches every case with a collaborative, client-inclusive approach that shapes technology for people, even when it means defying the status quo. In the words of everyone who works with us, “We believe solving serious challenges, making a real impact, and saving lives is worth every waking moment of our day.”

If you have a problem to solve, a question to ask, or a strategy to refine, contact us directly at https://www.synaptiq.ai/contact-us. Not quite ready yet? Learn more about our work and mission through our past projects or blog.

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