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 technology 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 heads of Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI, Joe Biden asserted that “the group here [présent] 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 change in the next 10 years or even in the next few years than we have seen in the last 50 years. It was an astonishing revelation to me,” the Democratic president said with trepidation.
But fears linked to this powerful technology are growing, as it represents dangers for consumers (fraud) and citizens (misinformation) and the risk that many jobs will disappear.
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.
False photographs and advanced montages (deepfake) have existed for years, but generative AI, capable of producing text and images on simple request in everyday language, raises fears of a flood of fake content online.
These can be used to manufacture ultra-credible scams or to manipulate public opinion. A particularly worrying prospect as the 2024 US presidential election approaches.
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 an advertising video a fake voice generated by artificial intelligence and resembling that of the former president.
“Pull all the levers”
“We must pull all the levers of the federal government to regulate” this sector and “work” with Congress to legislate in the matter, declared the chief of staff of the White House, Jeff Zients, to the information site Axios.
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 of Representatives — make passing new AI laws unlikely any time soon, but the government has said it is working on an executive order on AI security.
The industry commitments secured by Joe Biden’s government 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.