US Congress meeting paves way to responsible AI

The US Congress has invited tech industry leaders to the US’ first AI Insight forum.

In a tweet discussing the event, which he attended, Bill Gates said: “The potential of AI is limitless—but we will only realise that potential if the government, the private sector, and civil society work together to maximise the technology’s benefits and minimise its risks.”

Gates mirrored the words and phrasing used by US senator, Chuck Schumer, who gave the opening speech at the event. Schumer said: “AI has such amazing potential and is such an amazing challenge—we must do all we can to come up with legislation to make the world with AI a better place.”

Schumer believes US Congress needs to play a role, in order both to maximise AI’s benefits, and minimise its risks, but doing so won’t be easy. “This is going to be one of the hardest tasks we undertake, because AI is so complex, will impact nearly every area of life, and is evolving all the time,” he said in his opening address to Congress.

“In past situations when things were this difficult, the natural reaction of a Senate or a House was to ignore the problem and let someone else do the job. But with AI we can’t be like ostriches sticking our heads in the sand. Only Congress can do the job, and if we wait until after AI has taken hold in society, it will have been too late.”

The event was held behind closed doors, but Elon Musk gave a speech to reporters. According to reports on Reuters, Musk called for AI regulation to ensure AI is developed in a safe way that is in the best interest of the public.  “It’s important for us to have a referee,” Musk told reporters.

Schumer wants to take in the views of both AI developers and those who he said: “Are asking tough questions, who care about developing safeguards to minimise AI’s risks”.

His remarks seem more grounded than the UK government’s ”pro innovation” sentiment. Schumer wants Congress to hear evidence from labour and civil rights communities, and sceptics from inside the industry who have the necessary technical experience to help regulators understand the changes that might be needed.

Hidden away in Apple’s iPhone 15 launch is a feature that turns voicemail into text in real time using the processing power of the new device. This is indicative of how quickly AI is advancing. Schumer wants to ensure AI enriches society and opens the door to new prosperity, while also minimising the very real risks it poses. Let’s hope the UK is also aligned with these values.

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