Non-public AI summit with senators, titans of tech garners controversy

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrive to the Senate bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2023. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz for The Washington Post)
Enlarge / Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrive to the Senate bipartisan Synthetic Intelligence (AI) Perception Discussion board on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2023.

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On Wednesday, US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hosted an “AI Perception Discussion board” within the Senate’s workplace constructing about potential AI regulation. Attendees included billionaires and modern-day business titans similar to Elon Musk, Invoice Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, OpenAI’s Sam Altman, and Jensen Huang of Nvidia. However this closely company visitor listing—with 14 out of twenty-two being CEOs—had some scratching their heads.

“That is the room you pull collectively when your staffers need footage with tech business AI celebrities. It is not the room you’d assemble once you need to higher perceive what AI is, how (and for whom) it features, and what to do about it,” wrote Sign President Meredith Whittaker on X.

The CEO-heavy listing had others questioning the technical AI acumen of the attendees. “I hope that Schumer and others pivot to listen to counterpoints from the various technical people who find themselves good at explaining tech,” mentioned Dr. Margaret Mitchell of AI platform Hugging Face, whose CEO attended the assembly. “These CEOs are largely not. And they’re very a lot incentivized to obscure crucial particulars, to the extent they themselves perceive them.”

Mitchell additionally raised issues in regards to the lack of technically expert ladies within the assembly. Total, seven of the 22 invitees had been lady, however not all of them maintain technical roles in AI, together with representatives from the AFL-CIO and the Writers Guild. “Ladies are technical, however you would not know that from Schumer’s invitees—and this can be a large downside if we need to create AI regulation that helps AI work for everybody,” Mitchell mentioned.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, speaks to reporters as he leaves the “AI Insight Forum” at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on September 13, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Enlarge / Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, speaks to reporters as he leaves the “AI Perception Discussion board” on the Russell Senate Workplace Constructing on Capitol Hill on September 13, 2023 in Washington, DC.

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Some Senators criticized the character of the assembly as nicely. “I believe it’s ridiculous that each one these monopolists are all right here to inform senators tips on how to form the regulatory framework to allow them to make the utmost sum of money,” mentioned Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

Regardless of the controversy, the assembly drew bipartisan curiosity, with greater than 60 senators collaborating. Democratic Senate Majority Chief Schumer and Senator Todd Younger (R-Ind.) expressed optimism in regards to the Senate’s readiness to think about legislative proposals. Nevertheless, Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) identified that the method of drafting acceptable laws would take time. “Are we able to exit and write laws? Completely not,” Reuters quoted Rounds as saying. “We’re not there.”

Whereas the assembly was closed to media and the general public, Reuters and The New York Instances reported on a few of the dialogue, performed in personal in order that nobody would “play to the press,” Schumer mentioned.

Based on Reuters, Musk argued for the need of a “referee” within the AI house. He described the regulation of AI akin to a sports activities sport, the place guidelines guarantee truthful play and shield the members. “It is essential for us to have a referee to make sure that firms take actions which can be protected and within the curiosity of most of the people,” Musk mentioned.

The multi-billionaire, who manages numerous tech ventures, together with the social media platform X, framed the assembly as a “service to humanity,” suggesting its ramifications “might go down in historical past as crucial to the way forward for civilization.” Musk’s feedback echo his earlier requires a six-month pause the event of AI programs extra highly effective than OpenAI’s GPT-4, which some critics say missed present hurt from AI in favor of unproven, hypothetical risks.

Alternatively, Meta’s Zuckerberg reportedly pushed for a collaborative strategy between the federal government and tech firms. He urged Congress to “have interaction with AI to assist innovation and safeguards,” highlighting the strategic benefit of getting American firms set international requirements.

Because of the fast rise of generative AI within the public eye over the previous yr—particularly associated to the success of AI assistant ChatGPT and warnings about potential risks of hypothetical super-intelligent machines—synthetic intelligence instruments have fallen squarely into the crosshairs of potential US authorities regulation, with heavy curiosity not too long ago from Schumer and others in Congress. Final week, US Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Hawley proposed a bipartisan legislative framework that might require firms engaged on “high-risk” AI purposes, similar to GPT-4, to acquire a authorities license.

The decision for AI regulation has change into more and more international, with nations worldwide grappling to set guidelines about facial recognition, deepfakes, coaching knowledge units, and extra. This week, firms Adobe, IBM, and Nvidia introduced they’d joined President Joe Biden’s voluntary AI commitments, which mandate measures like watermarking AI-generated content material to flag its synthetic origins.

With a lot hype on the market—and so many {dollars} flying round—business specialists like Mitchell are fearful that the technical particulars might get misplaced within the dialog. “The precise factor to do would have been to speak first with people who find themselves technically expert and who can converse to peoples’ rights,” mentioned Mitchell. “They’d have set the inspiration of Schumer’s understanding. As an alternative the inspiration of his understanding is now aligned to short-term revenue maximization.”

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