Wicker Convenes Hearing on Artificial Intelligence Technologies

Miss. State Professor Testifies Before Senate Technology Panel

December 12, 2017

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today conducted a hearing to explore the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in the digital economy and best practices to ensure proper use of this technology.

Dr. Cindy Bethel, an Associate Professor at Mississippi State University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, participated in today’s hearing.

In his opening statement, Wicker said, “The excitement surrounding this technology is deserved. AI has the potential to transform our economy.  AI’s ability to process and sort through troves of data can greatly inform human decision-making and processes across industries, including agriculture, health care, and transportation. In turn, businesses can be more productive, profitable, and efficient in their operations.

“As AI systems mature and become more accurate in their descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive capabilities, there are issues that should be addressed to ensure the responsible development and use of this technology.  Some of these issues include: understanding how data is gathered; what data is provided for an intelligent machine to analyze; and how algorithms are programmed by humans to make certain predictions.  Moreover, understanding how the human end-user interacts with or responds to the digital decision – and how humans interpret or explain decisions of the AI system over time – will also need to be addressed.”

The software industry supports 7,000 jobs in Mississippi and contributes more than $800 million to the state’s economy.

Other witnesses at today’s hearing included:

  • Mr. Daniel Castro, Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation;
  • Ms. Victoria Espinel, Chief Executive Officer, BSA – The Software Alliance;
  • Dr. Edward Felten, Ph.D., Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University; and
  • Dr. Dario Gil, Ph.D., Vice President, IBM Research AI and IBM Q, IBM.