Elon Musk Describes AI as a Double-Edged Sword, Emphasises the Need for Regulation to Ensure Safety


Elon Musk and Fellow Tech Titans Urge AI Regulation in Capitol Hill Meeting with US Legislators; Musk Advocates for a Dedicated AI Oversight Role and Conversations Highlight Potential Hazards of Emerging Tech, Including Deepfakes.

“Tesla (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk, along with Meta Platforms (META.O) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet (GOOGL.O) CEO Sundar Pichai, and other tech leaders, made a collective call on Wednesday for the establishment of a U.S. AI oversight body, often referred to as a “referee.” This appeal occurred following their meeting with lawmakers at Capitol Hill, where the primary agenda was the regulation of artificial intelligence.Lawmakers are actively exploring strategies to address the potential risks associated with this rapidly advancing technology, which has gained substantial investment and widespread consumer interest, partly due to the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. Musk emphasized the necessity for a regulatory authority to ensure the responsible use of AI.

Musk likened the need for an AI regulator to the role of a referee in sports, stating, “It’s important for us to have a referee.” The billionaire, who also owns the social media platform X, added that such a regulator would “ensure that companies take actions that are safe and in the interest of the general public.” Musk considered the meeting a “service to humanity” and suggested it might be regarded as a pivotal event in the future of civilization. He confirmed that he had referred to AI as a “double-edged sword” during the forum.

Zuckerberg asserted that Congress should actively engage with AI to both foster innovation and implement necessary safeguards. He pointed out that AI is an emerging technology, emphasising the importance of striking a balance between various interests, with the government ultimately responsible for this task. Zuckerberg further stated that it is preferable for American companies to set the standards in collaboration with the government on critical issues.Over 60 senators participated in the meeting, and lawmakers expressed unanimous agreement regarding the imperative need for governmental AI regulation.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who orchestrated the forum, stated after the meetings, “We are beginning to really deal with one of the most significant issues facing the next generation, and we got a great start on it today. We have a long way to go.”Republican Senator Todd Young, a co-host of the forum, expressed his belief that Senate committees responsible for legislation may soon commence their deliberations on the matter. However, Republican Senator Mike Rounds cautioned that it would take time for Congress to enact regulations, stating, “Are we ready to go out and write legislation? Absolutely not. We’re not there.”Lawmakers are particularly concerned about safeguarding against potentially harmful deep fakes, including counterfeit videos, election interference, and attacks on critical infrastructure.

Among the other attendees were Nvidia (NVDA.O) CEO Jensen Huang, Microsoft (MSFT.O) CEO Satya Nadella, IBM (IBM.N) CEO Arvind Krishna, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, and AFL-CIO labor federation President Liz Shuler.

Schumer emphasised the urgency of AI regulation in preparation for the 2024 U.S. general election, particularly in the context of deep fakes. He stated, “A lot of things that have to be done, but that one has a quicker timetable maybe than some of the others.”

In March, Musk and a consortium of AI experts and executives called for a six-month pause in the development of AI systems more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4, citing potential societal risks.Regulators worldwide are actively working to establish guidelines for the use of generative AI, which can produce text and images that are nearly indistinguishable from human creations.On Tuesday, Adobe (ADBE.O), IBM, Nvidia, and five other companies announced their endorsement of President Joe Biden’s voluntary AI commitments, which include measures like watermarking AI-generated content. These commitments, introduced in July, aim to prevent the malevolent use of AI’s capabilities. Google, OpenAI, and Microsoft also pledged their support in July. Additionally, the White House has been developing an AI executive order.”

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