ai-tech-summit – The Washington Post

As President Biden plans to unveil a sweeping artificial intelligence executive order next week, several prominent tech leaders warned Thursday that the action should only be seen as a starting point and far more is needed to protect society from AI’s impact on jobs, surveillance and democracy.
“I don’t know where optimism would spring from, but it is pretty barren ground,” Meredith Whittaker, president of the Signal Foundation, said at The Washington Post’s AI summit. “And the incentives are not aligned for the social good.”
Alexandr Wang, chief executive and founder of Scale AI, which scored a $249 million contract last year to provide a range of AI technologies to the Defense Department, warned of immature AI systems being deployed on the battlefield. Scale also counts the Army, Air Force, the Marine Corps University and military truck maker Oshkosh among its individual customers.
“There will be some decision that’s made, rightly or wrongly, to deploy a very immature AI system that could then create dramatic risks of our soldiers on the battlefield,” he said. “I think we need to be thinking about what does it mean to actually have mature AI technology versus hype-driven AI technology.”
Biden’s executive order is expected to ease immigration barriers for highly skilled workers and also require that advanced AI models undergo assessments before they are used by federal workers. But despite the long-awaited federal action, the executives said they were still fearful of what a future with AI would bring.
“We should be very concerned,” Whittaker said. “We are outgunned in terms of lobbying power [from major tech companies] and in terms of the ability to put our weight on the decision-makers in Congress.”
The launch of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools has ushered in rapid advances in artificial intelligence and has increased global angst around the impact the technology will have on society. Policymakers are also increasingly concerned about the impact on democracy around the world, especially as the globe enters a critical year for elections.
Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower and co-founder of Beyond the Screen, said that the growth in the technology has been exponential and that “we shouldn’t just dismiss it” as a “toy.”
“I think that sentiment is dangerous, like just coming in and saying this is just a hype cycle,” she said. “They’re getting better at doing things like structured reasoning. We shouldn’t just dismiss that this is not going to be a danger.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has dialed up the chamber’s work on AI in recent months by hosting a series of private forums, echoed the sentiment. The executive branch is “concerned and they’re doing a lot regulatorily, but everyone admits the only real answer is legislative,” Schumer said of the administration.
Biden’s top science adviser, Arati Prabhakar, later said she concurred. “Of course the majority leader is completely correct … No question that much more will be needed,” said Prabhakar, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Everyone needs to step up and meet their responsibilities and obligations,” Prabhakar said. “The decisions we make on AI right now are going to shape the future for many, many decades ahead.”


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