Sundar Pichai: ‘No Question’ AI Needs to Be Regulated – Geek

Google is making huge strides in the field of artificial intelligence: spotting breast cancer, forecasting hyperlocal rainfall, reducing flight delays.

But with great power comes great responsibility: A maxim by which Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai runs his businesses.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated,” he wrote in a Financial Times op-ed published on Monday. “It is too important not to.”

According to the chief executive, we must learn to balance AI’s “potential harms” (deepfakes, nefarious use of facial recognition) with its “social opportunities.”

The key, he explained, is international alignment: If everyone can agree on artificial intelligence’s core values, it can be harnessed for good.

Gears are beginning to turn, and some governments are starting to develop proposals.

The EU this week suggested a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition in public places as officials work to enhance privacy procedures.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, are taking a more laissez faire approach.

The Trump administration’s recently proposed guidance encourages innovation and growth while avoiding regulatory actions “that needlessly hamper AI.”

In 2018, Google published its own artificial intelligence principles, “to help guide ethical development and use of the technology,” Pichai boasted. Digital tools and open-source code for applying those standards is also available online.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also serves as a “strong foundation,” he said.

Building a house on top of that foundation, however, takes time—and by then it might be too late. For example, deepfake technology reached the mainstream last year, and authorities are still struggling to regulate it.

Machine learning has shown great promise in fields like healthcare, automotive, finance, video games, and the military. But not everyone is prepared for the potential loss of jobs (and eventually human freedom) that comes with the robot uprising.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who peddles luxury electric vehicles designed to drive autonomously, has long expounded on the evils of AI—”a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive,” he said in 2017.

And he’s not alone.

“AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so,” Pichai warned. “By ensuring it is developed responsibly in a way that benefits everyone, we can inspire future generations to believe in the power of technology as much as I do.”

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