/ 01 November 2023

Laying down the law on AI

Handshake of human and robot. Innovation and technological progress concept, blue background
Handshake of human and robot. Innovation and technological progress concept, blue background

The Squiz

As artificial intelligence (AI) throws a bot-like cat amongst the human pigeons, US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to regulate the technology. He – like the tech bosses – says it’s needed because “in the wrong hands, AI can make it easier for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the software that makes our society run”. It’s a big deal because up until now, developers in America – where major players OpenAI, Google, and so many more are based – have had no restrictions put on their hugely consequential work. 

What do the US regulations mean?

Great question. There’s a good breakdown here, but the big thing it’ll do is delay the release of new AI software until it’s approved by the US Government. Developers will have to share the results from the safety testing they do with a particular focus on the risks to national security, public health and safety, and the economy. Before that’s put in place, government agencies need to set standards for that testing. The other thing the order does is earmark funding for technologies to preserve AI users’ privacy, which is another major concern. US cybersecurity expert Jake Williams says, “the Biden executive order makes it clear: privacy, equity, and civil rights in AI will be regulated.” Note: the US isn’t the only country trying to crack the AI regulation nut… The European Union and the UK Government are considering their own regulations, with UK PM Rishi Sunak hosting a big AI safety summit this week.

What’s happening here?

That’s another good question because Aussies are said to be some of the most distrustful of AI in the developed world… The Albanese government’s been running a consultation process on local AI regulations, which has received 510 submissions. One to note is from the Australian Human Rights Commission saying we need rules ASAP to counter risks to privacy, online misinformation and powerful automated systems. Science Minister Ed Husic (the bloke leading the government’s AI response) seems to agree – he’s said that although AI “contains great benefits for both individuals and organisations, it’s important we get the balance right” with its governance. While that’s being worked through, Husic is in the UK for the AI safety summit that’s on today and tomorrow.

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