Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., participate in a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on December 15, 2021. On Friday, the pair called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate the potential harms threatened by artificial intelligence. File Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo
June 23 (UPI) -- Sens. Ed Markey and Gary Peters on Friday called on the U.S. comptroller general of the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a detailed technology assessment of the potential harms of generative artificial intelligence and how to mitigate them.
The letter said the ability of generative AI to mimic voice, music, text, and product design, along with other content, can have a negative harm on society, exploit communities and create harm to mankind if it goes unchecked.
"Although generative AI holds the promise of many benefits, it is already causing significant harm," stated a letter from Markey, D-Mass., and Peters, D-Mich., to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office.
"In order to draw the maximum benefits from advances in AI, we must carefully study and understand its costs," the letter states. "Congress urgently requires the non-partisan, technical expert that GAO is well placed to deliver. We are early in the evolution of generative AI, but it promises tangible benefits to society if properly managed."
Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Peters, chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, pointed to serious concerns associated with generative AI use, including the potential to "jailbreak" generative AI models and circumvent developer controls.
They said it can cause harm to data workers, and the potential for the output of generative AI to directly harm vulnerable communities or risk widespread injury, death or even human extinction.
Some of the issues the senators said they want the GAO to address include what role the effect of commercial pressure to deploy AI is playing in its development and use, what security measures are being used in its development, what roles human workers are playing in processing data, labeling and removing harmful outputs, and the potential harm for vulnerable populations.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., outlined a new effort to regulate artificial intelligence. Schumer called on legislators to support his plan, called the Security, Accountability, Foundations, Explain Innovation Framework. That plan seeks to counter the potential job loss, national security and misinformation risks that AI brings.