White House will take a ‘hands-off’ approach to AI regulation

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The White House has decided it will take a ‘hands-off’ approach to AI regulation despite many experts calling for safe and ethical standards to be set.

Some of the world’s greatest minds have expressed concern about the development of AI without regulations — including the likes of Elon Musk, and the late Stephen Hawking.

Musk famously said unregulated AI could post “the biggest risk we face as a civilisation”, while Hawking similarly warned “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

The announcement that developers will be free to experiment with AI as they see fit was made during a meeting with representatives of 40 companies including Google, Facebook, and Intel.

Strict regulations can stifle innovation, and the U.S has made clear it wants to emerge a world leader in the AI race.

Western nations are often seen as somewhat at a disadvantage to Eastern countries like China, not because they have less talent, but citizens are more wary about data collection and their privacy in general. However, there’s a strong argument to be made for striking a balance.

Making the announcement, White House Science Advisor Michael Kratsios noted the government did not stand in the way of Alexander Graham Bell or the Wright brothers when they invented the telephone and aeroplane. Of course, telephones and aeroplanes weren’t designed with the ultimate goal of becoming self-aware and able to make automated decisions.

Both telephones and aeroplanes, like many technological advancements, have been used for military applications. However, human operators have ultimately always made the decisions. AI could be used to automatically launch a nuclear missile if left unchecked.

Recent AI stories have some people unnerved. A self-driving car from Uber malfunctioned and killed a pedestrian. At Google I/O, the company’s AI called a hair salon and the receptionist had no idea they were not speaking to a human.

People not feeling comfortable with AI developments is more likely to stifle innovation than balanced regulations.

What are your thoughts on the White House’s approach to AI regulation? Let us know in the comments.

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