GOP And Tech Lobbyists Push Back On Biden’s AI Plan

( – President Biden’s plans to use emergency legislation to prompt tech companies to share information with the government have come under fire. Tech lobbyists say asking technology and artificial intelligence (AI) companies to provide details about AI advancement has been condemned as an overreach.

The Biden administration considers AI a potential threat to national security and, as such, intends to use the Defense Production Act to secure data from private companies. The 1950 legislation permits the federal government to take control of industry in the event of a national emergency. President Trump last used it during the coronavirus pandemic; Biden criticized him for not using it sooner.

Republicans are hitting back against Biden’s plans. Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota said AI does not present a national emergency, and utilizing the Defense Production Act to coerce information from private companies is not the intent of the legislation.

NetChoice, a tech industry trade association, said the idea is a “violation of executive authority” that should be challenged and defeated in the courts. On the other hand, Tom Wheeler of the Brookings Institution supports the idea. Wheeler, who chaired the Federal Communications Commission from 2013 to 2017, said, “Your choices are to either sit around and watch the boat sink or to look for ways to make the boat move.”

Passed at the start of the Korean War in 1950, the Defense Production Act allows the President to issue executive orders to control the domestic economy. It enables the Commander-in-Chief to “allocate materials, services, and facilities” for national defense and to restrict the hoarding of supplies. President Trump invoked it to compel companies to produce medical supplies, including asking General Motors to manufacture ventilators, but added that he was reluctant to “nationalize business” and only supported the law’s use when absolutely necessary.

President Biden’s executive order authorizes the Commerce Department to set guidelines for and collect reports from tech companies engaged in AI advancement.

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