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NC Representatives host Biden administration senior officers, discuss AI

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Rep. Valerie Foushee speaks at the AI roundtable event at NCCU on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.

On Tuesday, Rep. Valerie Foushee, (D-NC 4th) and Rep. Deborah Ross, (D-NC 2nd) hosted a roundtable with senior administration officers from the Biden Administration and local industry leaders to discuss government use of artificial intelligence. 

The event was hosted at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and featured a discussion about AI usage with technology entrepreneurs and faculty from NCCU, Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. 

Other guests from Washington, D.C. included Arati Prabhakar, the chief advisor on science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Elizabeth Kelly, the director of the U.S. AI Safety Institute, National Institute for Standards and Technology.

Durham Mayor Leonardo Williams and NCCU Chancellor Johnson Akinleye also attended the event and both made remarks regarding responsible use of AI in education and governance. 

“Let us seize the opportunity to step ahead of the conversations right at the center of our future, where AI empowers individuals into society, and fosters the full potential of humanity,” Akinleye said.

Foushee announced that she will be joining a bipartisan AI task force in U.S. Congress. She said the topic deserves more attention and that the districts she represents serve a critical role in advancing AI. 

“It is critical for Congress to act now to ensure the U.S. can safely and responsibly remain at the forefront of the rapidly growing AI industry,” Foushee said.

Foushee also commended Biden’s October executive order on safe, secure and trustworthy AI. The order calls for transparency from AI developers with the government, establishes standards to help Americans avoid AI fraud and protects technological privacy.

In January, North Carolina became the fourth state education department to release a guidebook on the use of AI in public schools. The NCDPI guidebook encourages AI incorporation in curriculums and school districts to form their own rules about its usage. 

The department worked with AI for Education to create a framework for schools to best promote ethical use of AI, equity and eliminating digital divides in underrepresented groups. 

Ross said that students learning how to use AI are some of the most important stakeholders in the future of technological ethics, and that they need to learn responsibility in using these skills. She also said that AI research should focus on developing AI for good.

N.C. Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-District 31) said that one of the best ways to ensure that AI maximizes its benefits is by implementing infrastructure for its opportunities, a topic that has not been discussed by the N.C. General Assembly. 

“I just want to make sure that you understand that the state of North Carolina will be moving in the space of AI and making sure that North Carolina is not far behind other states like California, Maryland and Texas,” he said. 

He is planning to file a legislation request to Gov. Roy Cooper to form a task force to pull together industry, academics, government and the community to create dialogue about AI. Hawkins also said that he wants to form a legislative panel to create interest among colleagues in understanding the current state of AI.

“I think now that we have this task force in the House, we'll have a task force, I hope, at the state level,” Ross said. 

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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