REGULATIONS AND AI
At the moment there isn’t much in terms of regulations on AI development. There has been an ongoing debate for decades now regarding whether or not to impose regulations to circumnavigate ethical dilemmas. The general consensus seems to be yes, but, we don’t seem to know where to begin.
In industries like finance or healthcare regulations serve a couple distinct purposes. First by dictating how a human operator should perform a particular action (avoiding discriminatory lending or protecting a patient’s privacy). Other regulations dictate how technology should be applied and when. Despite the fact that regulatory gaps can cause problems overall these regulations help protect people and property from unethical business practices.
Now typically, businesses tend to be against the addition of regulations because it can make it more difficult and more expensive to profit and expand. In the matter of AI however, there are a couple distinct reasons why business owners have expressed concern over the lack of AI regulations. First, there is the belief that because business owners have to make serious ethical decisions without regulatory guidance there will be backlash from the general public or the court system over those decisions. Nobody wants to be held responsible for these kinds of serious decisions as it could cost them in the long run. Second, large business owners know that the more regulations there are in place the more costly and more difficult it is for new competitors to catch up. It is far easier to create a monopoly if you have no competition to begin with.
Regardless of the reasons the field of AI is so new and so open-ended that we need to map out a way forward and firmly establish what can and cannot be done.
ELON MUSK AND THE PUSH FOR REGULATIONS
Elon Musk has always recognized the good and bad potentials of AI development. He has always claimed to be a proponent of common sense regulations on the field of AI. Back in 2015 he co-founded Open AI, an organization founded on developing ethical AI. Musk lended up leaving the company last year over disagreements with the company’s work. He recently expressed that he believes Open AI should be more transparent and that he does not have confidence in their current leadership.
He has received backlash on Twitter for his calls for more AI regulations. People have stated that Musk is simply trying to raise the barrier for entry to suppress the competition. Others express that requiring government approval could slow down development too much and make it more difficult to be innovative. These concerns are not unwarranted but Musk stands by his beliefs that every company developing AI including Tesla needs to be more tightly regulated for the good of society.
This is a debate that can no longer be put off.
THE FUTURE NEED FOR RESTRICTIONS
The AI industry as a whole has been moving very fast. Companies tend to be quick to adopt new technologies out of fear of being left behind. Machine Learning and Deep Learning allow companies to recognize patterns by analyzing increasingly large data sets which opens up bold new possibilities. With these new possibilities come a whole host of new ethical problems including but not limited to:
- privacy concerns over the use of personal data
- discrimination by AI programs playing a role in the hiring of applicants
- facial recognition
- the use of autonomous military weapons which allow AI to make its own decisions regarding when to kill someone
- self driving vehicles which will have to decide on their own what to crash into should they malfunction.
Most governing bodies seem to be burying their head in the sand instead of thinking about the future of AI. Business owners seem to be more on top of the need for regulation because they have a clearer understanding of its potential. Countries like the US are probably concerned about falling behind countries like China that are pouring billions of dollars into AI research and development. However, it is clear that when it comes to ethics and regulations regarding AI China is a shining example of what not to do. We need to have our priorities in line moving forward.