America’s concern over advanced tech genuine - GulfToday

America’s concern over advanced tech genuine

Illustrative image.

Illustrative image.

There is serious concern among tech-businessmen like OpenAI’s Sam Altman, whose company created ChatGPT, that Artificial Intelligence in the United States needs state regulation and that it could be misused in the political arena like elections apart from other things. Coming from Altman, chief of the company with its tremendously successful ChatGPT making waves across the world, this is indeed an observation that needs to be taken pretty seriously.

He testified before the United States Senate judicial sub-committee on Tuesday. Speaking about the elections, Altman said, “I’m nervous about it.” He suggested that there should be a licensing and testing agency for AI models. And among other things, he said that AI-makers should declare that something is AI-generated. And that advertisers and others can refuse to share their data for testing and manufacturing AI models.

In the Senate hearing, Senator Cory Booker summed up the situation well when she observed, “There’s no way to put this genie in the bottle. Globally this is exploding.” There was also a meeting in the White House with CEOs of tech companies dealing with AI, and there was no consensus as to what needs to be done. Christina Montgomery, IBM’s chief privacy and trust officer, said that regulation would be necessary in areas where there is the possibility of greatest social harm. But the formulation however well intended is not precise enough to evolve regulation.

Interestingly in a Reuters/Ipsos survey, 61 per cent of Americans expressed the fear that AI threatens civilisation while 21 per cent disagreed and 17 per cent were not sure. A surprising finding was 70 per cent of former president Donald Trump supporters were apprehensive about the harm that AI would do compared to 60 per cent of President Joe Biden’s supporters. More Evangelical Christians strongly believe that AI poses a threat to humanity compared to 24 per cent among non-Evangelical Christians. In America religious belief is a major factor among a majority of people, a fact that is often overlooked. But it is possible that religious groups which are opposing AI now could change their minds as it had happened with many other technological advances.

What is of importance is the fact there is need for a global dialogue on how to deal with AI applications like ChatGPT, and the need to regulate its use both at the manufacturing end and that of the end-user. There is little doubt among tech experts that there is need for regulation because of its potential for misuse. The computer technologies, including data-generators, cross national boundaries as it is difficult to confine them to any national territory. An AI manufacturer can develop AI applications for any language sitting anywhere.

It is for this reason that there is need for governments across the world to create a forum, or use existing ones like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) to discuss and put in place a global framework of rules in regulating the use of AI.

It is also clear that AI cannot be wished now that it has been developed and it is now available in the global market. There is no other option but to raise the awareness of people of its uses and abuses. It is not an issue that can be left to business heads and politicians, or just to science experts though we need them in deliberating on the issue. There is need to include young people, parents, educationists, and social activists to discuss threadbare the impact that AI will have on the whole society.

Society as a whole as to activate itself in dealing with emerging technologies like the AI because it affects the lives of people across the spectrum. AI can be a useful tool in medicine and engineering, but it cannot be useful in teaching young children to learn natural languages or for creative purposes like writing personal letters, writing an essay in school or college.

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