ACLU Comment on U.S. Senate AI Working Group Policy Roadmap

May 15, 2024 5:12 pm

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WASHINGTON — Today, a U.S. Senate artificial intelligence (AI) working group led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a policy paper laying out a roadmap for regulation of AI. In response to the policy paper, Cody Venzke, senior policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, issued the following statement:

“The AI policy roadmap sets us on the wrong path. Despite mountains of evidence provided by numerous organizations at multiple ‘AI Insight Fora,’ the roadmap gives little acknowledgement of the risks to civil rights and civil liberties posed by AI. For example, algorithmic systems used to screen tenants are prone to errors and incorrectly include criminal or eviction records tied to people with similar names; such errors fall hardest on Black and Latine people. Similarly, algorithmic tools, already used widely in hiring and other employment decisions, have been repeatedly shown to exacerbate barriers in the workplace on the basis of race, disability, gender and other protected characteristics.

“Enforcement of existing civil rights laws should be reinforced with meaningful protections, such as creating standards for assessing when the risk to civil rights and civil liberties is too great to warrant use. People should be able to receive notice when AI is used in making decisions about us, and the law should require audits and assessments of algorithmic decision making, mitigation of discrimination and other harms, decommissioning of AI if mitigation is not possible, and providing recourse, including human alternatives.

“Just as concerningly, the AI roadmap appears to double down on uses of AI in defense, national security, and intelligence — agencies that are already broadly using AI and whose use of AI has many of the most profound impact on individuals’ civil rights and civil liberties. The roadmap supports increased funding for defense and national security uses but has virtually nothing that would mandate the adoption of robust safeguards for AI systems that contribute to surveillance, watchlisting, searches of travelers at the border, or even the use of lethal force. If the development of AI systems for national security purposes is an urgent priority for the country, then the adoption of critical protections by Congress and the executive branch is just as urgent. We cannot wait until dangerous systems have already become entrenched.”

The U.S. Senate AI working group policy paper can be found here: https://www.schumer.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Roadmap_Electronic1.32pm.pdf

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