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House Democrats new AI working group to crack down on deepfakes

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Moderate Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have launched a new working group on artificial intelligence (AI), with its priority being on mitigating the dangers of AI deepfakes as the 2024 presidential elections draw closer.

The 97-member group was created by the New Democrat Coalition, a faction of centrist legislators within the Democratic Party. It will work on policies that promote AI innovation while protecting Americans at a time when the industry thought leaders have sounded the alarm on the new technology.

The new group will be chaired by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the ranking member of the new House Administration Subcommittee on Modernization. Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Sara Jacobs (D-CA) will be among the four vice chairs.

The formation of the group comes at a time when legislators in the U.S. and beyond are scrambling to formulate laws for AI. Despite being a runaway leader in AI innovation, the U.S. lags behind in overseeing the technology, with the EU leading AI regulation with its AI Act.

“As AI’s applications expand and change, it is incumbent on lawmakers to address its unique opportunities and challenges by creating a regulatory framework that both encourages growth while guarding against potential risks,” commented Rep. Kilmer.

“This AI Working Group will focus on understanding AI’s many applications, assessing their benefits and drawbacks, and proposing policies that position the U.S. as a world leader in AI innovation and safety.”

The group’s policy targets include setting the stage for the U.S. to retain its position atop the AI industry and protecting workers whose jobs are threatened by AI automation.

However, it’s AI-generated deepfakes that are of immediate concern to the legislators, Rep. Kilmer told CNBC.

“There’s real concern about the potential for AI generated disinformation, real concern about misuse of advanced AI models. And that’s the type of thing that requires Congress to get smart and get smart fast,” he stated.

Deepfakes are increasingly concerning U.S. legislators as the 2024 presidential election draws closer. Presidential hopefuls like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered Trump’s strongest rival for the Republican ticket, are already using AI in their campaign ads.

With AI-generated images and voices now almost indistinguishable from genuine content, the technology could play a big role in public misdirection. Congress is working on offering guidance on this, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introducing a bill in May that would require candidates to disclose any use of AI in their ads.

Watch: Does AI know what it’s doing?

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