Joe Biden pledged Friday that he wants to oversee the development of artificial intelligence (AI) “responsibly and securely” during a meeting at the White House with tech companies committed to fighting both cyberattacks and fraud.
“Artificial intelligence holds the greatest promise of incredible opportunity, but it also poses risks to our society, our economy and our national security,” the US president said.
Joe Biden, along with leaders from Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI, affirmed that “the team here (now) needs to lead these innovations responsibly and with security.”
The seven companies have pledged to respect the “three principles that should underpin the development of artificial intelligence”, namely safety, security and trust, with Joe Biden hailing their commitment to “stimulate responsible innovation”.
“We’re going to see more technological change in the next 10 years, or even the next few years, than we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” the Democratic leader said.
But the fears attached to this powerful technology are intensifying, from risks to consumers (fraud) and citizens (misinformation) to the risk of losing many jobs.
Specifically, these seven companies have pledged to test their computer programs both internally and externally. They have pledged to invest in cyber security and share relevant information about their tools, including potential vulnerabilities, with authorities and researchers.
“They should develop robust techniques to ensure users know when content is created by AI, such as watermarking systems,” the White House said.
So far, the major companies involved have been reluctant to include such marks in the content created with their programs.
Fake photos and advanced montages (“deepfakes”) have been around for years, but generative AI capable of generating text and images on simple requests in everyday language is raising fears of a proliferation of fake content online.
These can also be used to create more credible hoaxes or manipulate public opinion. A particularly worrisome prospect as the 2024 US presidential election approaches.
“Pull all the levers”
Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump’s arch-rival in the race for the Republican nomination, has already used a fake voice in a commercial that resembles the former president’s.
“We need to pull all the levers of the federal government” and “work” with Congress to regulate the industry, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Giants told the Axios news site.
He said the law was needed to specialize in the federal government and “have the regulatory power to hold the private sector accountable for its actions.”
Current political tensions in Congress — where Republicans hold the House — make passage of new AI laws unlikely soon, but the government has said it is working on an executive order on AI security.
“The Crucial First Step”
According to Paul Barrett, deputy director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University, the industry commitments obtained by the Biden administration are “an important first step.” “But since they are not subject to compliance, it is imperative that Congress pass the laws quickly,” he added.
The White House said it was working with allies abroad to seek “a robust international framework to govern the development and use of AI” around the world.
The topic was front and center at the G7 in Japan in May, and Britain is set to host an international AI summit, possibly as early as next autumn.
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