In a groundbreaking gathering, top tech CEOs met with United States Senators and civil society leaders in Washington, D.C., for the AI Insight Forum.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described the historic meeting in remarks to the Senate a week before the event.
“It will be a meeting unlike any other that we have seen in the Senate in a very long time, perhaps ever: a coming together of top voices in business, civil rights, defense, research, labor, the arts, all together, in one room, having a much-needed conversation about how Congress can tackle AI.”
The goal was to thoroughly analyze the complex landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) regulation.
Our first-ever bipartisan AI Insight Forum is kicking off now! We’re convening this balanced and diverse group to talk about how Congress must join the AI revolution.
We need all hands on deck to maximize AI’s societal benefits while minimizing its many risks. pic.twitter.com/0ZYiwIzFUp
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 13, 2023
Executives from Tesla, Meta, OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and IBM attended the forum.
Full list for Schumer’s AI insight forum: pic.twitter.com/b9mJhW39NW
— Maria Cristina Curi (@m_ccuri) August 30, 2023
Although the session was private, the media captured a few moments of the tech leaders coming together.
Tech tycoons with a combined net worth of roughly $550 billion gathered in the same room Wednesday for a Senate forum on the future and regulation of AI https://t.co/otlPQ1bPpm pic.twitter.com/NFZq41FJM1
— Bloomberg (@business) September 13, 2023
As described in a news release from Senator Jack Reed, this was the first of nine sessions to help policymakers better understand AI technology and its potential impacts on society.
“AI has the potential to power a new transformation in the global economy and lead to all sorts of technological and societal advancements. The United States needs to be forward-looking and understand the challenges and risks, while ensuring America remains at the forefront of digital and technological leadership.”
Importance Of Implementing AI Regulation
In his opening remarks, Schumer acknowledged that while big tech companies like OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft have committed to responsible AI development, Congress must step in before it’s too late.
“Government must play a role in requiring these safeguards. Because even if individual companies promote safeguards, there will always be rogue actors, unscrupulous companies, and foreign adversaries that seek to harm us. And on the transformational side, other governments, including adversaries like China, are investing huge resources to get ahead. We could fall behind, to the detriment of our national security.”
While some tech leaders were concerned that over-regulation could stop the U.S. from leading in AI advancement, most agreed that regulations are needed.
1. AI has the capacity to do great things. It also holds a lot of uncertainties and potential for public harm.
2. There is little to no public accountability for AI, and Congress must act to minimize harm and maximize public benefit.
— Senator Ben Ray Luján (@SenatorLujan) September 13, 2023
Prepared Remarks Tech CEOs On Responsible AI Development
Clement Delangue, CEO of Hugging Face, stressed the importance of cross-sector coordination for safe and responsible AI development.
He underscored Hugging Face’s mission to democratize machine learning through openness, including public communication, open science, and open-source initiatives.
Delangue also highlighted the double-edged sword of AI, praising its potential for innovation while cautioning against existing risks such as misinformation and ethical concerns, calling for policy guidance at this crucial juncture in AI research and development.
In the spirit of transparency, you will find below my opening statement at @SenSchumer’s AI Insight forum today, thanks to @IreneSolaiman @madisenxtaylor with contributions of many @huggingface team members and community members.
Super constructive conversation with @ruchowdh… pic.twitter.com/txqKsK1AJN
— clem 🤗 (@ClementDelangue) September 13, 2023
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the US’ leading role in AI innovation and called on Congress to engage proactively in shaping the technology’s future.
He outlined two key issues facing AI: safety and access.
On safety, he detailed Meta’s efforts to build safeguards into their AI models and products, including partnerships with academics and other societal experts.
On the issue of access, he highlighted Meta’s balanced approach to open sourcing, advocating for American leadership in setting global technical standards while also building protective measures.
“Having access to state-of-the-art AI is going to be an increasingly important driver of opportunity in the future, and I think that’s going to be true for individual people, for companies and for economies as a whole.”
Risks Posed By Open-Source AI Models
Tristan Harris, head of the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology, specifically called out Meta’s Llama 2 model, launched in partnership with Microsoft.
According to attendees, Harris claimed his nonprofit convinced the Llama 2 model to provide instructions for creating dangerous biological compounds.
Zuckerberg countered by stating that similar instructions are already accessible on the internet.
After hearing from Big Tech CEOs and leaders at today’s AI Insight Forum, it’s clear we need a new independent agency to regulate AI and social media.
We cannot allow these companies to continue to transform American life with no guardrails.
— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) September 13, 2023
Effects Of AI On Jobs
Another risk of AI discussed was related to those whose jobs may be affected negatively by the rapidly advancing technology.
2/ Conversation, composition, creativity, discovery, in person connection – these are the things that make us human and fill our lives with meaning and value.
What happens when AI writes our e-mails, composes our music, creates our art? What happens as machines replace teachers?
— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 13, 2023
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hopes people think of AI as a copilot rather than something that could autopilot jobs.
But Satya Nadella probably characterized best what the US government response to AI should be: “We should not be thinking of AI as something that is on autopilot. With AI it will be much better implemented with copilots.” (2/2)
— Sen. Maria Cantwell (@SenatorCantwell) September 13, 2023
The Challenges Of AI Regulation
During an interview with CNBC, Elon Musk likened the role of government in AI regulation to a referee in a sports game.
“I think it is important for similar reasons to have a regulator, what you can think of as a referee, to ensure that companies take action that is are safe and in the interests of the general public.”
All joking aside, he voiced his concerns about ensuring AI companies operate safely and in the public interest.
“The question is really one of civilizational risk. It’s not like one group versus another group of humans. This is something that’s potentially risky for all humans everywhere. It’s very important to understand that.”
Schumer and Senator Mike Rounds underscored the importance of bipartisan action with MSNBC, noting that AI is “so complicated and technical” that it requires immediate federal attention.
“AI is one of the most difficult things for a congressional body to tackle because it is so complicated and technical. It is so wide-ranging. It is going to affect just about every aspect of our society, and it is changing. But we have to act.”
Some Senators, however, have expressed doubts in the AI Insight Forum.
We do not need the federal government coming in and heavy-handedly regulating AI.
Right now, Congress needs to tap the breaks and slow down—AI has incredible potential and it currently is transforming the economy. pic.twitter.com/YrjEjzBxyt
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 14, 2023
In a clip shared by Fox 32 Chicago, Senator Josh Hawley criticized the majority leader for not introducing significant tech bills.
“The majority leader has talked a lot about tech tech tech. For two years now he hasn’t put a single significant bill on the floor.”
The network also shared a short clip of Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, commenting on AI risks.
“Making sure that we can navigate through those downsides and being very clear about what those risks are, I think it’s important.”
What’s Next With AI Regulation?
The AI Insight Forum’s major takeaway was the common ground between tech CEOs and politicians on regulation.
The first-ever AI Insight Forum was one of the most informative discussions ever held in Congress!
Congress must play a role in regulating AI, in promoting transformational innovation, and in helping ensure we have guardrails for sustainable innovation.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 14, 2023
It set a crucial precedent by gathering the biggest names in tech and politics to discuss AI regulation, setting the stage for future legislative action.
Today, we hosted the first bipartisan AI Insight Forum focused on policy issues, opportunities, and threats related to artificial intelligence.
Thanks to all of the experts who joined us today.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on these issues in the coming months. pic.twitter.com/qX9kP5X4mt
— Senator Todd Young (@SenToddYoung) September 13, 2023
However, it could be a long time before AI regulation is implemented.
A very productive first-ever AI Insight Forum
One thing we know: Our work is just beginning
It’s not going to be easy
But 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
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 13, 2023
Featured image: VideoFlow/Shutterstock