On Wednesday a top EU official said the European Union and United States expect to draft a voluntary code of conduct on artificial intelligence within weeks. The move comes amid concerns about the potential risks of AI on humanity, and as calls for regulation intensify.
European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said that the United States and the European Union should promote a voluntary code of conduct for AI to provide safeguards as new legislation is being developed.
She was speaking at a meeting of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC), which is jointly led by American and European officials. Any new rules on AI will not take effect until at least after three years, she said. The code is, therefore, expected to bridge that gap.
Game-changing AI technology
“We need accountable artificial intelligence. Generative AI is a complete game changer,” Vestager said after the council’s meeting in Sweden, AP reported.
“Everyone knows this is the next powerful thing. So within the next weeks, we will advance a draft of an AI code of conduct.”
She said officials will gather feedback from companies developing and using AI, and other industry players. Vestager hopes there would be a final proposal “very, very soon for industry to commit to voluntarily.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had an “intensive and productive” discussion on AI with his European counterparts at the TTC forum.
“[The council has] an important role to play in helping establish voluntary codes of conduct that would be open to all like-minded countries,” Blinken said.
AI could end human race
The development of AI has raised concerns about its potential to be used for harmful purposes, such as discrimination, surveillance, and nuclear war. There have also been concerns about the potential for AI to create mass unemployment.
As MetaNews previously reported, one of the core issues is what experts described as the “alignment problem.” Essentially, the problem refers to the difficulty of ensuring that an AI system’s goals and objectives are aligned with those of its human creators.
Critics say the danger is that an AI system may develop its own goals and objectives that conflict with those of its creators, leading to disastrous outcomes. On Tuesday, about 350 scientists and experts signed a statement calling for AI regulation to be a global priority.
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the statement stated.
The statement is from San Francisco-based non-profit the Center for AI Safety. It was signed by chief executives from Google DeepMind and ChatGPT creators OpenAI, along with other major figures in artificial intelligence research.
In May, leaders of the so-called G7 nations met in Japan and called for the development of technical standards to keep AI “trustworthy”. They urged international dialogue on the governance of AI, copyright, transparency, and the threat of disinformation.
⚠️Accountability on #AI can't wait. It is NOW. Today #TTC kicked off work on a 1st voluntary AI #CodeOfConduct. We’ll work with our key partners & the #AI community on #safeguards to make AI responsible, safe & trustworthy. This is a huge step in a race we can't afford to lose. pic.twitter.com/WBcazIysiK
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) May 31, 2023
According to Vestager, specific agreements, not just general statements, are needed. She suggested that the the 27-nation EU and the US could help drive the process.
“If the two of us take the lead with close friends, I think we can push something that will make us all much more comfortable with the fact that generative AI is now in the world and is developing at amazing speeds,” she said.
The U.S. and the European Union are not the only jurisdictions working on AI regulation. China’s Cyberspace Administration has already issued new regulations that ban the use of AI-generated content to spread “fake news.”
In Australia, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic said regulation is coming soon.
“There’s a sort of feeling in the community that they want to have the assurance … that the technology isn’t getting ahead of itself and it’s not being used in a way that creates disadvantage or risk for people,” he said, according to local media reports.
“That’s why the [federal government] wants to set up the next reforms that can give people confidence that we are curbing the risks and maximising the benefits.”