Yost Makes Multiple Trips to Capitol Hill to Offer Historical Perspective on AI

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/08/2023)—CBI Director Jeffrey Yost made two trips to Washington, D.C., in late October. The first was at the invitation of the leadership of the American Historical Association (AHA) to do an AHA Congressional Briefing on artificial intelligence. This Congressional Briefing was filmed by a CSPAN Crew (which will soon air and be available for streaming on the CSPAN site) on the morning of October 20th. It was to an audience of senior Congressional Staffers and the media. 

After opening remarks from the moderator, Princeton’s Matthew Jones, Yost presented his paper “Exploring AI’s Dual-Decontextualization, and Why Metaphors Matter.” The next panelist was past CBI Tomash Fellow and Virginia Tech Prof. Janet Abbate with a talk entitled “What Kinds of Intelligence has AI Been Expected to Have—and What Kinds Have Been Left Out?” Finally, Connelly gave a paper on “AI and Declassification,” and how autonomous systems might be harnessed to address long delays in Freedom of Information Act requests and advance transparency and access to documents in the service of democracy. Jones, as the moderator, made comments and posed a few questions before shifting to select and read audience questions to round out the remainder of the ninety-minute Congressional Briefing. 

US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker
US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker at the AI Policy Symposium October 26, 2023. Photograph by Jeffrey Yost.

A week later, on October 26th and 27th, Yost was back in Washington, D.C., and on Capitol Hill to participate in the AI Policy Symposium, an event organized by Syracuse University (Prof. Hamid Ekbia of the Autonomous Systems Policy Institute and Syracuse Provost Gretchen Ritter) and the US Senate AI Caucus. The two-day event began with luncheon with featured speakers Senator Mike Rounds and Senator Cory Booker. Booker worked the room with great passion and charisma in his talk on race, his father as a top IBM salesperson, and the need reach an AI policy that helps correct rather than amplifies societal inequality. 

Senator Rounds was more focused on competition, adversaries, and winning the AI arms race against China. The meeting then shifted to the Wharf of the Potomac and an office building holding the seminar sessions, and a terrace cocktail party. The symposium panel sessions and party were attended by dozens of academics, newsroom leaders, and Congressional staffers. On the 27th, leading academics from more than a dozen fields and top digital world journalists engaged in the planning and launch of the Academic Alliance for AI Policy (AAAIP). The goal with the AAAIP is to have a diverse group of academics build deeper connections with standout technology journalists and Congressional staffers to guide policies on AI in the greater public interest. 

Yost and CBI are one of three original Partners in the AAAIP and will work with the other sixteen members to help this initiative to grow impactfully and serve as an advisory body and resource to lawmakers and policymakers in their efforts to regulate AI, as well as to the media to aid public understanding.


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