Biden pressures tech giants to regulate artificial intelligence

Joe Biden assured Friday that he wanted to oversee the development of artificial intelligence (AI) “with responsibility and security” during a meeting at the White House with the tech giants, who are committed to combating both cyberattacks and fraud.

“Artificial intelligence holds huge, huge promise of incredible opportunity, but it also poses risks to our society, our economy and our national security,” the US president said.

Along with the leaders of Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI, Joe Biden asserted that “the group here (present) will be essential to guide this innovation with responsibility and safety”.

While these seven companies have pledged to respect “three principles which must be fundamental to the development of artificial intelligence”, namely safety, security and trust, Joe Biden welcomed their commitment to “pushing responsible innovation”.

“We will see more technological changes in the next 10 years or even in the next few years than we have seen in the last 50 years. This was an amazing revelation for me”, moved the Democratic president.

– Election of 2024 –

But fears linked to this powerful technology are intensifying, from dangers for consumers (fraud) and citizens (misinformation) to the risk of losing many jobs.

Concretely, these seven companies have notably promised to test their computer programs internally and externally before their launch. They have also pledged to invest in cybersecurity and to share relevant information about their tools, including possible flaws, with authorities and researchers.

They must also “develop robust techniques to ensure that users know when content has been generated by AI, such as a watermarking system”, adds the White House.

So far, the main companies concerned have been rather reluctant to add such marks to the content created with their programs.

Fake photographs and advanced montages (“deepfake”) have been around for years, but generative AI, capable of producing text and images on simple request in everyday language, raises fears of a surge of fake content online.

These can be used to manufacture ultra-credible scams or even to manipulate public opinion. A particularly worrying prospect as the 2024 US presidential election approaches.

– “Activate all the levers” –

The support committee of Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump’s great rival in the race for the nomination of the Republican Party, has already used in a commercial a false voice generated by artificial intelligence and resembling to that of the former president.

“We need to pull all the levers of the federal government to regulate” this sector and “work” with Congress to legislate, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients told the Axios news site.

He added that legislation is needed to have expertise within the federal government and to “have the regulatory authority to hold the private sector accountable for its actions.”

Current political tensions in Congress — where Republicans hold the House — make passing new AI laws unlikely anytime soon, but the government has said it is working on an executive order on AI security.

The industry commitments obtained by the Biden administration are “an important first step,” according to Paul Barrett, deputy director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University.

“But since they are not subject to sanction for non-compliance, it is vital that Congress passes laws quickly,” he added.

The White House also said it was working with allies overseas to seek “a strong 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, likely next fall.

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