US Vice President Kamala Harris has told the CEOs of US AI giants that they have a “moral” responsibility to protect society from the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI).
President Joe Biden’s administration has summoned the leaders of the country’s top technology companies to deliver a warning regarding the development of AI technologies.
The meeting’s attendees included Google’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and OpenAI’s Sam Altmann.
In the meeting, led by Vice President Harris, the White House stressed that the companies have a “moral duty” to protect the public from the risks that come with AI tools, and made it clear that the government is considering drafting legislation that would further regulate these technologies.
The meeting included a “frank and constructive discussion” on the need for companies to be more transparent with policymakers about their AI systems, the importance of evaluating the safety of such products, and the need to protect them from malicious attacks, the White House said.
Harris said in a statement following the meeting that the new technology had great potential to improve lives, but it could also pose a risk to safety, privacy and civil rights.
Companies “must comply with existing laws to protect the American people” as well as “ensure the safety and security of their products”, Harris added.
The meeting was prompted by the Biden administration’s concerns over the rapid development of generative AI. Over the last few months, AI-powered chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT have seen a dramatic rise in popularity. These free tools can generate text in response to a prompt, including articles, essays, jokes and even poetry. A study published in January showed ChatGPT was able to pass a law exam, scoring an overall grade of C+.
Biden briefly attended the meeting, insisting on Harris’ points: “What you’re doing has enormous potential and enormous danger.
“I know you understand that. And I hope you can educate us as to what you think is most needed to protect society as well as to the advancement,” he said, according to a video posted later by the White House.
Sam Altman, chief executive of OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT, told reporters that in terms of regulation, executives were “surprisingly on the same page on what needs to happen”.
The White House is far from the only public institution that has raised concerns over the rise of AI tools. The US Federal Trade Commission has stated it is “focusing intensely” on how the technology is being used by firms and the impact it may have on consumers.
Earlier this month, notable technology figures including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak signed an open letter warning that AI labs were locked in an “out-of-control race” and calling for a six-month pause on all large-scale AI experiments.
The letter was followed by the resignation for AI ‘godfather’ Geoffrey Hinton from his job at Google, warning that “bad actors” will use the new technologies to harm others and that the tools he helped to create could spell the end of humanity.
The White House used Thursday’s (4 May) meeting to announce new actions to “promote responsible American innovation in artificial intelligence”. This included a $140m (£111m) investment from the National Science Foundation to launch seven new AI research institutes, and a promise that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget would release policy guidance on the use of AI by the federal government.
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