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White House calls in tech firms to talk AI risks

AFP . Washington
03 May 2023 10:54:09 | Update: 03 May 2023 11:01:43
White House calls in tech firms to talk AI risks
— AFP Photo

The White House plans to meet with top executives from Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and Anthropic on Thursday to discuss the promise and risks of artificial intelligence.

Vice President Kamala Harris and other US administration officials will discuss ways to ensure consumers benefit from AI while being protected from its harms, according to a copy of an invitation seen by AFP.

US President Joe Biden expects tech companies to make sure products are safe before being released to the public, the invitation said.

US regulators last month took a step towards drawing up rules on AI that could see the White House put the brakes on new technologies such as ChatGPT.

The US Department of Commerce put out a call for input from industry actors that would serve to inform the Biden administration in drafting regulation on AI.

"Just as food and cars are not released into the market without proper assurance of safety, so too AI systems should provide assurance to the public, government, and businesses that they are fit for purpose," the Commerce Department said in a statement at the time.

The United States is home to the biggest innovators in tech and AI -- including Microsoft-backed OpenAI, which created ChatGPT -- but trails internationally in regulating the industry.

Google in March invited users in the United States and Britain to test its AI chatbot, known as Bard, as it continues on its gradual path to catch up with ChatGPT.

Biden has urged Congress to pass laws putting stricter limits on the tech sector, but these efforts have little chance of making headway given political divisions among lawmakers.

The lack of rules has given Silicon Valley freedom to put out new products rapidly -- and stoked fears that AI technologies will wreak havoc on society before the government can catch up.

Billionaire Elon Musk in early March formed an AI company called X.AI, based in the US state of Nevada, according to business documents.

Musk, who is already the boss of Twitter and Tesla, is listed as director of X.AI Corporation, a state business filing indicated.

Musk's founding of what appears to be a rival to OpenAI came despite him recently joining tech leaders and AI critics in calling for an overall pause in the development of artificial intelligence.

Google, Meta and Microsoft have spent years working on AI systems to help with translations, internet searches, security and targeted advertising.

But late last year San Francisco firm OpenAI supercharged the interest in the AI sphere when it launched ChatGPT, a bot that can generate natural-seeming text responses from short prompts.