By Chris Adams

How do you regulate an emerging technology that hasn’t been regulated before?

That’s the conundrum for U.S. policymakers as they grapple with new artificial intelligence systems that have the potential to reshape culture and the economy in the U.S. and worldwide.

Ryan Hagemann, director for policy at the Niskanen Center, gave National Press Foundation fellows an overview of the current federal role in regulating artificial intelligence systems.

During the administration of President Barack Obama, there was some activity, including reports from the White House Office of Science and Technology that explored the development of AI and how it might be regulated. Some advocates pushed for something akin to a “Federal Robotics Commission.”

During the administration of President Donald Trump, even that level of activity has cooled off.

Hagemann went over some of the legislative efforts introduced during the Trump years. He also reviewed efforts at “algorithmic accountability,” or the idea that companies be held accountable for the AI systems that have the ability to harm members of the public.