Will Washington’s ambitious plan of pushing AI forward be jeopardized by past battles on social media?

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As debates around artificial intelligence (AI) begin to develop on Capitol Hill, the familiar battle lines around social media are re-emerging. Republican politicians are concerned that any new rules will lead to increased censorship of conservatives, whilst Democrats are apprehensive that they will open the floodgates for online hate speech and disinformation. These same politics of tech disputes will make it harder for the two parties to come together on AI policy. Lawmakers are likely to need to look beyond censorship, disinformation, political bias or other issues raised by social media if they want to produce meaningful AI rules. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from legal liability over content posted by users, is a familiar topic of contention. Attempts to reform this law to suit the modern era of social media have repeatedly been hindered by partisan disputes around censorship, disinformation, and hate speech. Researchers argue, however, that this moment is only the beginning, and that the social media culture wars are about to morph into the AI culture wars.

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