WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris will meet on Thursday with the CEOs of four major companies developing artificial intelligence as the Biden administration rolls out a set of initiatives meant to ensure the rapidly evolving technology improves lives without putting people’s rights and safety at risk.
The Democratic administration plans to announce an investment of $140 million to establish seven new AI research institutes, administration officials told reporters in previewing the effort.
In the coming months, it is also expected that the White House Office of Management and Budget will issue guidelines on how agencies in federal government can make use of AI tools. Top AI developers will be committing to an independent evaluation of their system in August, at the Las Vegas hacker conference DEF CON.
Harris and administration officials on Thursday plan to discuss the risks they see in current AI development with the CEOs of Alphabet, Anthropic, Microsoft and OpenAI. Government leaders are telling companies that the can play a part in mitigating risks, and they should work with government.
President Joe Biden noted last month that AI can help to address disease and climate change but also could harm national security and disrupt the economy in destabilizing ways.
The release of the ChatGPT chatbot this year has led to increased debate about AI and the government’s role with the technology. Because AI can generate human-like writing and fake images, there are ethical and societal concerns.
OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT, has been secretive about the data its AI systems have been trained upon. That makes it hard for those outside the company to understand why ChatGPT is producing biased or false answers to requests or to address concerns about whether it’s stealing from copyrighted works.
Companies worried about being liable for something in their training data might also not have incentives to properly track it, said Margaret Mitchell, chief ethics scientist at AI startup Hugging Face.
“I don’t think OpenAI could provide enough detail to address concerns about consent, privacy, and licensing. Mitchell stated this in an interview on Tuesday. “From what I know of tech culture, that just isn’t done.”
Theoretically, at least, some kind of disclosure law could force AI providers to open up their systems to more third-party scrutiny. But with AI systems being built atop previous models, it won’t be easy for companies to provide greater transparency after the fact.
“I think it’s really going to be up to the governments to decide whether this means that you have to trash all the work you’ve done or not,” Mitchell said. “Of course, I kind of imagine that at least in the U.S., the decisions will lean towards the corporations and be supportive of the fact that it’s already been done. It would have such massive ramifications if all these companies had to essentially trash all of this work and start over.”
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