OpenAI CEO Urges US Legislators to Implement Critical Regulation for Artificial Intelligence
During a hearing before a US Senate judiciary subcommittee, Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, emphasized the urgent need for government regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) due to the potential risks it poses to humanity. Altman, a prominent figure in the AI field, called on Congress to enact new rules targeting big tech, despite the longstanding political divisions that have hindered internet regulation legislation.
Altman expressed concerns about the significant consequences if AI technology were to malfunction. “If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong,” he warned the committee. While OpenAI is founded on the belief that AI has the potential to enhance various aspects of life, Altman stressed the importance of acknowledging the associated risks. Considering the dangers of disinformation, job security, and other potential hazards, he argued that regulatory intervention by governments is crucial to mitigate the risks posed by increasingly powerful AI models.
As a proposed solution, Altman suggested the establishment of a US or global agency responsible for licensing the most advanced AI systems, granting the authority to revoke licenses and enforce compliance with safety standards.
OpenAI gained significant attention after the release of ChatGPT, a chatbot tool capable of providing convincingly human-like responses, which sparked initial concerns about academic integrity. However, broader worries have since arisen regarding the potential for the latest generation of “generative AI” tools to deceive individuals, propagate falsehoods, infringe upon copyright protections, and disrupt certain job sectors.
The legislators voiced their deepest fears regarding the advancements of AI. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, set the tone for the hearing on Capitol Hill by employing a computer-generated voice remarkably similar to his own to read a text composed by the AI bot. Blumenthal emphasized the growing impact of AI technologies beyond mere research experiments, highlighting the risks of misinformation and potential endorsements of controversial positions.
While recognizing the immense potential of AI tools, Altman suggested that the US government should consider a combination of licensing and testing requirements before the release of more powerful AI models. He also advocated for labeling practices and increased global coordination to establish regulations for AI technology. Altman emphasized the importance of the US taking a leadership role, but acknowledged the need for global collaboration to effectively address the challenges posed by AI.
Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, emphasized the profound implications of AI for elections, employment, and national security, considering the hearing as a crucial initial step toward understanding the necessary actions Congress should take. Blumenthal pointed out that Europe has already made significant progress in AI regulation, referencing the AI Act, which is set to undergo a vote at the European Parliament next month. The proposed European Union legislation includes potential bans on biometric surveillance, emotion recognition, and certain policing AI systems.
Founded in 2015 as a nonprofit research lab with a focus on safety, OpenAI, co-founded by Altman with support from tech billionaire Elon Musk, has transformed into a business entity. The company’s portfolio includes other popular AI products like the image generator DALL-E. Microsoft has made substantial investments in OpenAI, integrating its technology into various products, including the Bing search engine.
In addition to his congressional testimony, Altman plans to embark on a global tour, engaging with policymakers and the public to discuss AI in national capitals and major cities across six continents.
During the hearing on Capitol Hill, experts also cautioned that AI technology is still in its early stages. New York University professor emeritus Gary Marcus, another panelist, expressed that there is much more to come regarding AI advancements, highlighting the need for cautious progress and potential concerns surrounding machines that possess self-awareness or the ability to improve themselves.