What Crypto Can Learn From AI About Getting Its Way in Washington
This past week, executives from leading artificial intelligence (AI) companies met with a bipartisan group of senior U.S. Senators. It was only the latest indication that Washington has turned its full attention to AI technology. The technology has been the subject of a presidential address and even a voluntary agreement between government and companies to mitigate potential risks. The chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, among the most active U.S. regulators, has also begun to examine the implications of AI.
John Rizzo is Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Clyde Group. Rizzo most recently served as the Senior Spokesperson at the U.S. Department of the Treasury where he led public affairs strategy on digital assets, among other issues.
Like life, political, legal, and regulatory scrutiny can come at you fast. As the AI industry looks into the future, it needs only to look at the recent past to the federal government’s approach to crypto assets to see what’s ahead.
Crypto and AI folk might blanch at being tossed into the same bucket because there are fundamental, substantive differences between the two. AI’s applications are much broader than tokens that might serve as a store of value or means of exchange. And AI’s use cases are tangible, whereas crypto proponents and opponents debate the necessity behind private sources of money. Culturally, AI is buttoned up, whereas crypto might as well have no buttons at all.
Still, suppose the AI industry wants to know how Washington will approach its emerging technology. In that case, it needs only to look at how it approached crypto’s emerging technology to understand several core lessons and strategies for the way forward.
The U.S.’s technology politics have changed since the rise of the internet. Populist impulses on both sides of the aisle leave the AI industry facing a highly skeptical Congress that questions the industry’s core outputs and motives. While AI will not have to justify its existence to lawmakers as crypto assets supporters have been forced to do, there will be no presumption of innocence. Key lawmakers in both parties will assume AI is up to no good unless it shows them otherwise.