Hagerty Warns That Federal Overregulation of AI Will Limit Election Speech

September 28, 2023

Notes That Photo-Editing Efforts to Make Biden Look Younger Might Be Unlawful Under Proposed Standards

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, today in a hearing raised his concerns with premature, heavy-handed government regulations proposed with respect to Artificial Intelligence (AI), noting his concern that such measures will create confusing standards that violate Americans’ First Amendment rights by limiting political speech.

 “Do political candidates, and others that engage in political speech, use AI today for routine functions, like taking and editing pictures, like you just mentioned, or for speech recognition or for processing audio and video content?” Hagerty asked Neil Chilson, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. 

Chilson confirmed to Hagerty that AI is used for routine political speech.  Hagerty cited the example of President Joe Biden’s reported use of photo-editing software to make him appear more youthful in published photographs, noting that this could become unlawful under proposed legislation. Chilson replied that this example highlights the arbitrary nature of singling out AI for regulation, given that doing so ignores other artificial, media-related mechanisms like the use of lighting for television interviews.

“Is there a risk then, in your view, that hastily regulating in a very uncertain and rapidly growing concept like AI might actually chill political speech?” Hagerty asked.

“Absolutely,” said Chilson.

“My point is that Congress and the Biden Administration should not engage in heavy-handed regulation with uncertain impacts that I believe pose a great risk to limiting political speech. We shouldn’t immediately indulge in the impulse for government to just do something as they say before we fully understand the impacts of the emerging technology, especially when that something encroaches on political speech,” Hagerty concluded.

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