Portman Leads Efforts to Promote Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology

October 25, 2019 | Portman Difference

As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, Senator Portman has worked in a bipartisan manner on several key measures to set high-quality standards around emerging technology, including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. In fact, his bipartisan Deepfake Report Act passed the Senate last night to direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct an annual study of deepfakes and other types of similar content. Building upon his bipartisan Hack Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Act and Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, both of which were signed into law in late 2018, Portman is now helping lead federal efforts to promote the responsible use of artificial intelligence both inside and outside the federal government.

Below is a brief summary of Portman’s legislative efforts to counter cybersecurity threats and attacks:

  • Ensuring the Federal Government Has AI Expertise. In September 2018, Portman introduced the bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Government Act along with and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).  The legislation is designed to improve the use of AI across the federal government by providing resources to agencies seeking to deploy AI, and ensuring that agencies have governance structures in place to ensure AI is used in a responsible way. Artificial intelligence will have significant impacts on our country, economy, and society.  Ensuring that our government has the capabilities and expertise to help navigate those impacts will be important in the coming years and decades.
  • Assessing and Addressing the Rising Issue of DeepFakes. Portman and Senator Schatz’s bipartisan Deepfake Report Act will require the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an annual deepfake report. Deepfakes are hyper-realistic, digital manipulations of real content that depict events that did not actually occur. This report will assess the technology used to generate deepfakes; the uses of deepfakes by foreign and domestic entities with a focus on the way this technology can be used the threaten national security and the integrity of U.S. elections; and available countermeasures to deepfakes. In October, the bill passed the Senate, becoming the first deepfake-related bill to pass a chamber of Congress.  
  • Prioritizing Explainable Artificial Intelligence. The Senate passed Portman and Senator Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) bipartisan amendment on explainable artificial intelligence in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment requires the Department of Defense to brief Congress on a number of factors related to its use of explainable AI, including the extent to which the Department of Defense currently uses and prioritizes the use of explainable AI, the limitations of explainable AI, and potential roadblocks to the effective deployment of explainable AI.
  • Developing a National Strategic Plan for AI Research and Development. In May 2019, Portman introduced the bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative Act with Senator Heinrich, which will organize a coordinated national strategy for developing AI and authorize a $2.2 billion federal investment over five years to build an AI-ready workforce, accelerating the responsible delivery of AI applications from government agencies, academia, and the private sector over the next 10 years.
  • Bolstering Cybersecurity in the Public and Private Sector.  In an effort to codify the existing Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams, Portman introduced the bipartisan DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act along with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH).  This legislation requires that DHS make permanent “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams to work to help prevent cyberattacks at all levels of government and the private sector, and help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur.
  • Promoting Stronger Cybersecurity Coordination Between DHS and State and Local Governments. Introduced in June 2019, Portman introduced the bipartisan State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) to encourage national cybersecurity watchdogs to share information regarding cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, breaches, and resources to prevent and recover from cyberattacks with states and localities who are increasingly targeted by bad actors.
  • Incentivizing & Prioritizing the Recruitment and Retention of AI Experts in the U.S. Military. In response to recommendations from U.S. military experts to ensure that our armed forces make computer science and digital engineering skills a priority for recruitment and training, Portman introduced the bipartisan Armed Forced Digital Advantage Act with Senator Heinrich. This legislation will modernize the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce by adding a recruitment focus and establishing military career tracks for digital engineering.  
  • Understanding Current Trends in AI Developments in Both the U.S. and China. The Senate-passed FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes Portman and Senator Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) amendment that directs the Secretary of Defense to undertake a comprehensive and national-level review of current trends in AI developments in both the U.S. and China, and an assessment of predicted implications to national security should the current trends continue.  It also pushes the Department to consider what types of relationships – in both the public and private sector – they need to develop in order to ensure the U.S. keeps pace with global AI development trends.