President Biden says tech firms must ensure their AI products are safe

President Biden says tech firms must ensure their AI products are safe

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U.S. President Joe Biden today met with his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to discuss the potential risks and opportunities introduced by rapid advancements in the development of artificial intelligence recently.

Biden (pictured) said in a statement that technology companies developing AI “have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe before making them public.” He noted that although AI can have some very positive impacts, addressing difficult challenges around disease and climate change, its creators must also address “the potential risks to our society, to our economy and to our national security.”

The White House reported that Biden would use the meeting with his experts to stress the importance of protecting rights and safety in order to ensure responsible innovation takes place, with appropriate safeguards in place. He also reiterated a call for Congress to pass legislation that would protect children and reduce data collection by technology firms.

Advances in AI have come under the microscope this year with the emergence of OpenAI LP’s popular ChatGPT chatbot, which has the ability to answer a seemingly endless array of questions with humanlike ability. It has sparked a race among technology firms to unveil similar programs, and led to ethical and societal concerns over the impact of such tools, which can not only generate convincing prose but also create artistic imagery.

Last week, Italy’s government announced it is temporarily blocking access to ChatGPT amid data privacy concerns, and European Union lawmakers are said to be considering new regulations that would put limitations on high-risk AI products. Earlier today, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced it’s launching an investigation into OpenAI after receiving a “complaint alleging the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information without consent.” China, which has previously banned people from accessing Google, Twitter and Facebook, reportedly banned ChatGPT in February.

In the U.S., prominent technology leaders including Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak last week signed an open letter from the Future of Life Institute proposing a six-month pause on large-scale AI development, though some observers noted that Musk may have his own interest in slowing down others’ AI efforts.

Biden did not allude to the letter in his remarks, but instead referred to the White House’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, which was unveiled last year. It included a set of far-reaching goals that aim to avert the harms caused by the growth of AI systems, with guidelines on how to protect people’s personal data and limit surveillance.

“Last October, we proposed a bill of rights to ensure the important protections are built into the AI systems from the start, so we don’t have to go back to do it,” Biden said. “I look forward to today’s discussion about ensuring responsible innovation and appropriate guardrails to protect America’s rights and safety, and protecting their privacy, and to address the bias and disinformation that is possible as well.”

Asked by one reporter if he considers AI to be dangerous, Biden stated: “It remains to be seen. Could be.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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