The White House recently called on the leaders of US artificial intelligence (AI) giants to acknowledge their “moral” responsibility in protecting society from potential dangers posed by artificial intelligence. In a meeting with CEOs from Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Anthropic, Vice President Kamala Harris urged these tech behemoths to ensure the safety and security of their products while complying with existing laws to shield the public.
During his casual appearance at the gathering, US President Joe Biden echoed these sentiments, emphasising the potential and peril embodied in AI technology. Despite urging Congress to establish stricter regulations on the tech sector, substantial progress is impeded by political conflicts.
The absence of clear-cut rules permits Silicon Valley to launch novel products swiftly, simultaneously raising apprehension that AI-driven technologies could inflict severe damage on society before the government can intervene. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman acknowledged the challenge while expressing optimism about addressing it proactively.
OpenAI, bolstered by Microsoft’s multi-billion-dollar investments, brought AI technology to mainstream users with ChatGPT, evoking global astonishment. Microsoft quickly incorporated the AI chatbot capabilities in its Bing search engine and other services. Despite criticisms and the White House meeting, the company has expanded public access to generative AI programmes.
Potential risks associated with AI include fraudulent activities involving voice clones, deep-fake videos, and convincingly-written text. Further, AI poses a threat to white-collar occupations, particularly in lower-skilled back-office work.
In March, experts called for a temporary hiatus in the development of powerful AI systems, allowing sufficient time for safety measures to be implemented. However, a widespread halt is widely deemed improbable.
The recent White House gathering also witnessed the announcement of several new initiatives aimed at fostering responsible American innovation in AI. These include allocating US$140 million to expand AI research and establishing an assessment system in collaboration with major tech companies to tackle issues.
While some view these developments with cautious optimism, competition amongst tech giants continues to grow. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has provoked rivals such as Google, Meta, and Microsoft, who have been developing AI systems for various applications. Google, for instance, is testing its AI chatbot, Bard, with users in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Before the White House meeting, US regulator Lina Khan, head of the Federal Trade Commission, urged policymakers to avoid adopting a race-to-the-bottom mindset and monopolistic control. According to Khan, the right policy choices are crucial in maintaining America’s status as the epicentre of world-leading technology without compromising moral and ethical principles.
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