OpenAI CEO Sam Altman will testify to Congress for the first-time next week, the latest sign that policymakers in Washington are ratcheting up scrutiny of artificial intelligence as the technology booms in Silicon Valley.
Altman, whose company is behind the AI-driven chatbot ChatGPT, will appear Tuesday before a Senate panel to discuss efforts to keep AI in check - efforts that include potential legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill.
The hearing comes as lawmakers and federal officials grapple with how to tackle the surging popularity of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, which pull information from massive data sets to generate words, images and sounds, including conversational responses to users' queries.
The product's rapid deployment has triggered an AI arms race in the tech industry and raised alarm among some AI ethicists and public officials, who fear the technology's potential to spread misinformation, replace jobs or otherwise cause significant harm to users.
The Biden administration in recent weeks has announced new steps to address the surging technology, including a move by the Commerce Department to field input on regulations.
Lawmakers in Congress have expressed growing interest in the issue, stepping up outreach and meetings with critics of the technology and industry leaders.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), whose subcommittee is hosting the hearing, said the session will begin the panel's "work in overseeing and illuminating AI's advanced algorithms and powerful technology."
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month met on Capitol Hill with Tesla and Twitter chief Elon Musk, whose companies rely on AI and who has sounded the alarm about its dangers to society, to discuss the technology.
Schumer has said he is developing a legislative framework aimed at addressing the potential risks poised by AI while not curtailing innovation in the tech sector.
"Artificial intelligence will be transformative in ways we can't even imagine, with implications for Americans' elections, jobs, and security," said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), the top Republican on Blumenthal's committee. "This hearing marks a critical first step toward understanding what Congress should do."
Christina Montgomery, vice president and chief privacy and trust officer at tech giant IBM, and Gary Marcus, a professor emeritus at New York University, are also slated to testify before the Senate Judiciary panel. Altman is expected to appear in-person and speak alongside the other witnesses, the panel said.
The full scope of Altman's appearances on the Hill next week is unclear. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told the publication Semafor on Tuesday that Altman would be visiting Capitol Hill.