On September 20, the Senate Banking Committee held its first hearing on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the financial services space, further revealing a partisan divide regarding the utilities and risks associated with the technology. 

In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown cautioned that although AI technology promises new efficiencies and opportunities, it also carries unique risk of harm to consumers and workers in the financial services space, including the potential for discriminatory practices in lending and the reduction of job security and wages. He called for “rigorous testing and evaluation of AI models” before they are put to use by companies and other organizations in the financial services space. 

By contrast, Chairman Brown’s counterpart, Acting Ranking Member Mike Rounds touted the successes that similar technologies have brought to the financial services industry and stated that AI presents more upside than risk, particularly in the space of fraud detection and prevention. He urged Congress to take a “pro-innovative” role in regulating AI and warned that halting or slowing progress in this space will only allow competitors in other countries to develop more advanced technologies. 

The Committee then heard from several witnesses working in the AI and machine learning (ML) space, including both industry professionals and professors. Overall, these witnesses championed the potentials of AI, explaining its potential for “greater efficiency, enhanced insight, expanded access, and lower costs” but cautioned that the utilization of AI and ML is not a “one size fits all” model and will require careful consideration and oversight to minimize the risks it could pose to consumers and the markets.

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