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Dueling Hearings Unveil Gov’t Efforts on AI; One Reveals Threat to Conservative Speech

dueling-hearings-unveil-gov’t-efforts-on-ai;-one-reveals-threat-to-conservative-speech
Dueling Hearings Unveil Gov’t Efforts on AI; One Reveals Threat to Conservative Speech

Two congressional committees held dueling hearings on Artificial Intelligence Tuesday. However, only one committee appeared to hone in on the rapidly growing threat that the technology poses to conservatives: how the Biden administration could hijack AI to censor Americans.

The House Judiciary Select Weaponization Subcommittee held a hearing on a damning report that the Biden-led National Science Foundation (NSF) provided grants totaling $13 million to entities developing AI-generated tools to tackle so-called mis- and disinformation. In a concurrent hearing by the House Subcommittee on Research & Technology. However, in that concurrent hearing, all but one Republican refused to question the NSF Special Assistant to the Director of Artificial Intelligence on her agency’s ongoing efforts to fund programs that could lead to the censorship of dissenting American voices.

Fired-up Republicans, led by Weaponization Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), said the Biden administration’s efforts on AI sought to thwart the First Amendment. The subcommittee unearthed emails revealing that some NSF grantees claimed Americans “cannot effectively sort truth from fiction online” and that individuals who read the Bible and the Constitution were vulnerable to misinformation. 

Jordan warned that the Biden administration gave taxpayer funds to censor Americans’ speech. “[If y]ou think the Bible is sacred, you support the Constitution and you view primary sources to think for yourself, [then] you’re the problem,” Jordan said, referring to an NSF-funded program at MIT.  The Ohio lawmaker issued a subsequent subpoena demanding the NSF turn over documents related to this contentious AI-generated censorship plan.

Among the grantees were the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($750,000), the University of Madison-Wisconsin ($5.75 million), the University of Michigan ($750,000) and tech non-profit Meedan ($5.75 million). Indeed—MIT launched the “Search Lit” platform, the University of Wisconsin-Madison created “CourseCorrect,” the University of Michigan developed “WiseDex” and Meedan launched “Co-Insights.” The funds went for a program dubbed the “Trust & Authenticity in Communication Systems,” House Republicans declared in an interim report

According to House Republicans, NSF sought to implement “education and training materials” to shield individuals they deemed subjectable to disinformation. Specifically, the taxpayer-funded groups were tasked with developing AI-generated censorship tools which could then be used by social media platforms to suppress free speech, Republicans declared.

???? #BREAKING: @Jim_Jordan subpoenas the National Science Foundation for its role in the censorship of Americans. pic.twitter.com/jJsguDcbBz

— Weaponization Committee (@Weaponization) February 6, 2024

At the same time as Jordan was highlighting the NSF’s apparent censorship efforts, NSF official Tess DeBlanc-Knowles appeared before the House Subcommittee on Research & Technology to discuss the Biden administration’s artificial intelligence objectives. Unfortunately, all but one of the subcommittee’s Republicans entirely ignored the threat of censorship or the Weaponization Subcommittee’s evidence of NSF misconduct. 

The sole Republican to speak on the issue was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who arrived at the hearing late because he was also a member of the Weaponization Subcommittee. Issa forcefully pressed DeBlanc-Knowles to address the NSF’s rampant censorship problem. “Is there any real difference between paying to abridge speech and directly abridging speech?” Issa asked. DeBlanc-Knowles’s rambling response did not provide any answer to this question.

Issa then added: “There’s no question we would have not formed a special select Committee on the Weaponization of Government if not for organizations like the National Science Foundation, in fact, participating in what we call ‘weaponization [of government].’ But let’s just call it abridging of free speech, which is what I’m choosing to do here today.”

While the other Republicans refused to ask probing questions, Democratic Party representatives used the Research and Technology hearing as an opportunity to pressure grant recipients into including diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and other racist designs in their programs. Rep. Valerie Foushee (D-NC) specifically demanded speakers detail how DEI could be instilled in their work, asking, “How does [your] corporate governance structure reflect equitable access or diversity, equity and inclusion” and, “Are any of your initial trustees African-American?”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), who was recently censured by the U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, discussed how AI could be redesigned to “eradicate” so-called “systemic racism.” Outrageously, none of the Republicans present countered this line of questioning. 

MRC Legal Associate Tim Kilcullen contributed to this report.

Conservatives are under attack! Contact your representatives and demand government agencies and Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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