Senate to grapple with AI’s effect on US energy as regulation talks heat up
The top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee will warn Thursday against allowing U.S. artificial intelligence capabilities to fall into China’s hands when the panel meets for a hearing on the topic.
Senators returned to Capitol Hill just days ago after spending the month of August in their home states. AI is expected to be a prominent topic for lawmakers as they race to get ahead of the rapidly advancing technology.
It’s also the topic at the heart of Thursday’s hearing led by Energy Committee Chair Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and ranking member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., that aims to examine how AI has affected the U.S. energy sector and how the federal government can stay competitive in that lane.
'Artificial intelligence plays an important role in the energy sector,' Barrasso is expected to say, according to early excerpts of his remarks obtained by Fox News Digital.
'In mining, AI can reduce equipment downtime. Advanced algorithms help miners locate mineral-rich deposits for more efficient exploration. Real-time analytics strengthen worker safety by predicting potential hazards.'
He will also bring up the Department of Energy’s 'important role' in researching AI and the concerns that come with that research getting into the wrong hands.
'The department maintains the world’s most advanced computing systems. Its 17 national labs have significant experience developing our nation’s most sensitive technologies. For this reason, the People’s Republic of China is watching nearly every move our labs make,' Barrasso will say.
'The Department of Energy and our national labs must take the China threat more seriously. We cannot let our technology fall into the hands of the butchers of Beijing.'
The panel of witnesses will include David Turk, deputy secretary for the Department of Energy and Rick Stevens of the Argonne National Laboratory.
It comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced all senators would be invited to a series of AI Insight Forums to educate lawmakers on the technology. Schumer has made AI regulation a cornerstone goal of this Congress.
The first forum, scheduled for Sept. 13, is expected to include tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, along with an array of AI experts.
'The intent here is to get as much information now … from the leaders in AI, the business leaders in AI, about what's going on, what the future is, just to give our members a really good understanding about what AI can really do and what these folks see as the future of AI,' Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., who has been a leading voice on AI in Congress, told reporters Wednesday.
'Our goal is not to try to write a piece of legislation,' Rounds added. 'Our goal is to allow the committees that have areas of expertise that they watch, for them to be able to look at what the impact of AI is going to be in their areas. And then, if they feel the need to propose legislation, this gives them all a … consistent background on a bipartisan basis to begin with.'
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