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House members to host bipartisan dinner with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

Altman, whose company developed ChatGPT, will also testify for the first time on Capitol Hill next week to discuss how to regulate artificial intelligence.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in Redmond, Wash., on Feb. 7, 2023.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in Redmond, Wash., on Feb. 7.Stephen Brashear / AP file

WASHINGTON — House Democrats and Republicans will hold a dinner at the Capitol next week with Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, which developed the popular artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, according to an invitation obtained by NBC News.

The closed-door, members-only event, planned for Monday night after House votes, comes as Washington tries to figure out how, if at all, to create rules for and regulate the rapidly moving AI industry. 

The bipartisan dinner is hosted by GOP Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Ted Lieu of California, who made headlines this year when he introduced a resolution written by ChatGPT that calls on Congress to regulate AI.

The goal of the dinner is to “educate members,” said Lieu, who shared the invitation with NBC News. More than 50 lawmakers have RSVP'd, he said.

Johnson framed the meeting in more serious terms.

"We've all become aware of the extraordinary potential and unprecedented threat that artificial intelligence presents to humanity and the urgent calls for Congress to engage and act thoughtfully before it's too late," Johnson said. "This bipartisan discussion with Mr. Altman will be a very timely and important part of this process."

The dinner will be one of several appearances on Capitol Hill for Altman. He will testify before Congress for the first time Tuesday, appearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy and technology led by Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

“Artificial intelligence urgently needs rules and safeguards to address its immense promise and pitfalls,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “This hearing begins our Subcommittee’s work in overseeing and illuminating AI’s advanced algorithms and powerful technology."

Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris convened a meeting at the White House with Altman and other tech CEOs about not only the opportunities but also the potential dangers of emerging generative, self-learning AI technology. The Biden administration that day announced new steps to promote “responsible” AI innovation while protecting people’s rights and safety, including a $140 million investment to create seven AI research institutes.

And top lawmakers warn that if Congress doesn’t act soon, the U.S. will fall behind China, which is already moving ahead with proposed regulations for AI.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he has been working with experts and colleagues on a legislative framework that outlines new regulations for AI. Last month, tech billionaire Elon Musk visited Schumer in the Capitol for a discussion that centered on AI.