In a display of rare bipartisanship, three commission nominees emphasized the critical importance of addressing the deceptive use of artificial intelligence (AI) during a confirmation hearing held on Tuesday. The nominees voiced their concerns during discussions about the re-nomination of Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, a Democrat, and the nominations of two Republicans, Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak, who currently serve as the solicitors general of Virginia and Utah, respectively, as reported by Reuters.
Ferguson, who previously served as the chief counsel to U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell from 2019 until 2021, and Holyoak, the nominee from Utah, concurred with Commissioner Slaughter regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) role in addressing AI-related issues. Senator John Thune questioned the nominees about the FTC’s responsibility in enforcing regulations related to artificial intelligence.
Commissioner Slaughter affirmed that it was the FTC’s duty to investigate and pursue instances where laws against unfair and deceptive practices were violated, irrespective of whether artificial intelligence was involved. She stated, “There may be things (involving AI) that Congress thinks are problematic that go beyond what the FTC Act covers, and that is up to you,” according to Reuters.
Both Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak echoed Commissioner Slaughter’s stance, with Holyoak highlighting the potential for AI to enhance fraudulent activities by making phishing emails and robocalls more convincing, ultimately luring unsuspecting victims into scams.
This unanimous agreement among the nominees is particularly noteworthy given the history of partisan disputes within the agency. Earlier this year, a former Republican FTC commissioner, Christine Wilson, resigned from her position and strongly criticized the leadership of the agency.
If the Senate confirms the nominees, as widely expected, the addition of the two Republican commissioners will not alter the balance of power within the five-member FTC, which is responsible for enforcing antitrust laws. The current FTC is chaired by Democrat Lina Khan and includes two Democratic commissioners.
The confirmation hearing signals a united front at the FTC in addressing the deceptive use of AI, indicating a bipartisan commitment to tackling the challenges posed by artificial intelligence in the realm of consumer protection and fraud prevention.