FTC Chairwoman: There is no ‘AI exemption’ to existing laws

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FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan has warned that the US government will not hesitate to clamp down on harmful business practices involving AI.

Speaking at a virtual press event, Khan was joined by top officials from US consumer protection and civil rights agencies.

Together, the officials emphasised that regulators are committed to tracking and stopping any illegal behaviour associated with biased or deceptive AI tools.

Khan warned that, in addition to the well-publicised deployment of automated tools that introduce bias into decisions about housing, loans, hiring, and productivity monitoring, the rapid evolution of advanced AI tools designed to generate human-like content also presents a significant risk.

Khan also expressed concern about AI tools that scammers could use to “manipulate and deceive people on a large scale, deploying fake or convincing content more widely and targeting specific groups with greater precision.”

She also warned that a small number of powerful firms already control the raw materials, data, cloud services, and computing power required to develop and deploy AI products. Khan raised the possibility that the FTC could wield its antitrust authority to protect competition.

“In moments of technological disruption, established players and incumbents may be tempted to crush, absorb or otherwise unlawfully restrain new entrants in order to maintain their dominance,” said Khan.

Khan did not specifically name any companies or products, but her comments will likely increase pressure on major tech firms like Google and Microsoft that are currently engaged in a race to sell more advanced AI tools.

The warnings from top US regulators come at a time when EU lawmakers are negotiating new rules designed to regulate AI, with some in the US calling for similar legislation.

The regulators said that many of the most harmful AI products might already contravene existing laws protecting civil rights and preventing fraud.

For her part, Khan reiterated that “there is no AI exemption to the laws on the books.”

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