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New A.I. working group aims to shape policy for key Democratic bloc

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  • Democrats are forming a new working group on artificial intelligence and prioritizing how to prevent deepfakes from wreaking havoc on private citizens and public trust.
  • Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., will chair the AI working group of the New Democrat Coalition, a 98-member group of liberal and centrist Democrats.
  • The boundless potential of AI "requires Congress to get smart and get smart fast," Kilmer told CNBC.

WASHINGTON — Democrats on Capitol Hill are forming a new working group on artificial intelligence and prioritizing how to prevent deepfakes from wreaking havoc on personal lives, national security and the upcoming 2024 elections. 

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., will chair the new AI working group in the New Democrat Coalition, a 98-member bloc of House members that typically avoid the spotlight but wield significant influence over policy within the caucus.

Lawmakers will focus on several priorities, including utilizing opportunities from AI and ensuring workers who lose their jobs AI can be retrained and remain in the workforce.

But it's deepfakes that are poised to be a particularly salient issue, because of how they can be used to spread misinformation. This could range from foreign states spreading political disinformation, to AI being used to create fake media to damage an individuals' reputation.

"There's real concern about the potential for AI generated disinformation, real concern about misuse of advanced AI models," Kilmer told CNBC. "And that's the type of thing that requires Congress to get smart and get smart fast."

Kilmer previously was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and the Senate that urged the Homeland Security Department to deliver an annual report on digital developments in forgery. 

Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), another member of the New Dems working group, introduced legislation that would make it a crime to share AI generated images that show real people in fake, compromising situations.

2019 report found that 96% of all deepfake videos were non-consensual and pornographic.

Another concerning aspect for many lawmakers is what AI generated images could mean in the world of campaign ads.

A political committee supporting Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently used AI in an ad to replicate former president Donald Trump's voice "reading" a post that Trump had written on social media.

A separate ad from the Republican National Committee contained AI generated images of hypothetical catastrophes that could occur during a second term for President Joe Biden, such as Taiwan being bombed by China. 

A bill to require ads to disclose the use AI-generated images or video was introduced in the Senate by Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar in May.

The New Dems working group is the latest In a series of AI-focused study groups created by members of Congress as debate over the issue has ramped up on Capitol Hill and beyond.

There are now bipartisan caucuses in both the House and the Senate, as well as an informal working group assembled by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), tasked with drafting a slate of bipartisan bills that can serve as a foundation for future AI legislation.

That work is still in its early stages, however, and It's not clear when Congress could begin voting on AI bills.

Copyright CNBC
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