It seems government regulators found an ally with OpenAI CEO and ChatGPT creator Sam Altman.
During a Judiciary Committee hearing last Tuesday, May 16, 2023, Altman called for companies to take responsibility regardless of Congress’ actions. This is in light of recent concerns about artificial intelligence or AI’s implications on several social issues, including the upcoming U.S. elections.
Altman also suggests that Congress adopt a “precision regulation” approach to AI, citing the importance of such safeguards to technological innovation and maintaining public trust. ChatGPT has recently faced regulatory pushback and backlash from government authorities, most notably from Italy and the European Union. Some regulatory concerns include the following:
Furthermore, AI’s application to several sectors of society, such as education and the judicial system, is being contested in these recent rounds of regulatory scrutiny. However, Altman assures that OpenAI supports transparency in generative AI with a call for better disclosure guidelines from the government.
Meanwhile, Senators and experts present in the hearing agree that knowledge of AI should be rapidly developed to prevent technology from outpacing regulation, like what happened to social media and the Internet.
Because of AI’s complexity, tremendous potential and risks, Altman advocates for creating a whole new federal agency for AI oversight to reduce instances of disinformation, data breaches and societal inequalities.
“My worst fear is that we cause cause significant harm in the world,” Altman said during the hearing.
“We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.”
This is one of the rare instances that a big tech company is testifying in Congress, advocating for government regulation in a rising and lucrative technology. However, it should be noted that despite Altman’s pronouncements about transparency and disclosures, their recent release of GPT-4 was opaque on energy usage and training costs, among others.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will heed Altman’s calls for more rigorous oversight or whether the tech industry can self-regulate AI before any such regulation is in place. One thing is certain, though: AI technology continues to develop rapidly, and society needs to have a clearer understanding of its implications and consequences.
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