Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., has introduced legislation that would require Federal agencies to designate senior officials to ensure that the Federal government’s use of emerging technology is consistent with “democratic values.”

The Oversee Emerging Technology Act – introduced by Sen. Bennet last week – would require relevant Federal agencies to designate a senior official able to advise on the responsible use of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, and quantum computing.

“The Federal government should lead by example to ensure its use of emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, aligns with our democratic values,” Sen. Bennet said in a statement. “This bill creates clear accountability across Federal agencies, charging senior officials with overseeing the responsible adoption and development of new technology.”

Specifically, the legislation would require that the appointed senior official provide expertise on responsible policies and practices, collaborate with officials and coordinating bodies across the Federal government, and offer input for responsible procurement policies.

Agency heads would need to identify the official and provide a description of the official’s authorities and responsibilities to Congress.

According to the senator’s office, ensuring that every agency using or procuring emerging technology is appropriately staffed will improve accountability and facilitate greater oversight.

By doing so, the Federal government could protect the nation from “the potential harms of government misuse and ensure that the deployment of this technology respects civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, and due process,” his office said.

Just weeks before introducing the latest bill, Sen. Bennet introduced legislation that would promote the responsible use of AI technologies by creating a cabinet-level AI task force at the White House.

The Assuring Safe, Secure, Ethical, and Stable Systems for AI (ASSESS AI) Act would create a task force to review existing AI policies across the Federal government and ensure the Federal government’s AI tools and policies respect civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, and due process.

According to Sen. Bennet, while the Biden administration has taken steps to promote responsible AI usage, there remains a lack of a comprehensive roadmap for AI policies, regulations, and tools.

Similarly to the reasoning behind introducing the Oversee Emerging Technology Act, Sen. Bennet explained that as the deployment of AI accelerates, the Federal government should lead by example to ensure it uses the technology responsibly.

“Americans deserve the confidence that our government’s use of AI won’t violate their rights or undermine their privacy,” Sen. Bennet said in a press release.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.