Lawmakers aim to 'get smart' about A.I. with help from giants like Amazon, Google, and IBM

Key Points
  • Bipartisan caucus looking to support basic research, as well as education and immigration reform.
  • Organizers have met with Amazon and Google, and a congressional briefing hosted by IBM is scheduled for next month.
U.S. Rep. John Delaney
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rep. John K. Delaney, D-Md., wants to help the government to "get smart" about artificial intelligence.

On Wednesday, he announced the launch of the bipartisan Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus, which will look to inform lawmakers on the current state of AI and then push for policy that could boost economic activity around AI and help citizens whose jobs are being replaced by automation.

As part of the effort, Delaney told CNBC, he has met with Amazon and Google, he told CNBC in an interview. The next step is a congressional briefing hosted by IBM on June 28, according to a statement.

Despite some fears about the effects of automation and AI on the workforce, Delaney is optimistic. "Data clearly demonstrates that innovation creates more jobs than it takes away," Delaney told CNBC. The trouble is that people don't understand the nature of the jobs that will be created, he said. The caucus will focus on these issues, as well as education, immigration reform and funding basic research.

Delaney is familiar with the idea of universal basic income, where the government would pay all citizens a basic stipend to let them buy necessities. Some Silicon Valley leaders have discussed this as a way to help workers whose jobs will increasingly be replaced by automation.

But Delaney believes it's "way too early to throw in the towel on unemployment." If anything, he said, the government should be considering pilot programs with partners that would pay people who provide care for others but don't receive compensation.

Delaney is co-chair of the caucus with Republican Rep. Pete Olson of Texas. Other participants include Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, Derek Kilmer of Washington, Anna Eshoo of California, Andre Carson of Indiana and Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Before getting elected to the House in 2012, Delaney founded two companies that later went public: CapitalSource and HealthCare Financial Partners.

"This stuff is happening really fast, and it's going to have implications on jobs, it's going to have implications on the day-to-day lives of our constituents, it's going to have implications on national defense," Delaney said. "Obviously we need to understand it better, and I don't think we're talking about it."