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White House secures voluntary AI commitments from Microsoft and Google

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with artificial intelligence experts and researchers at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on June 20, 2023.

Jane Tyska | Medianews Group | Getty Images

Seven leading AI companies including Google, Microsoft and OpenAI, will convene at the White House on Friday, pledging to create ways for consumers to identify AI-generated content and test their tools for safety before public release.

AmazonAnthropic, flexion and Meta finalize the pool of potential participants. On Friday, seven companies agreed to a series of voluntary commitments to develop artificial intelligence technology.

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Responsibilities include:

  • Developing a way for consumers to identify AI-generated content, such as through watermarks.
  • Bringing in independent experts to assess the security of their tools before releasing them to the public.
  • Sharing information on best practices and attempts to circumvent safeguards with other industry participants, governments and external experts.
  • Allow third parties to find and report vulnerabilities in their systems.
  • A notice of the limitations of their technology and recommendations for the proper use of artificial intelligence tools.
  • Prioritizing research on the social risks of AI, including around discrimination and privacy.
  • Developing artificial intelligence to help mitigate social problems such as climate change and disease.

Security has become a major concern in the world of artificial intelligence since OpenAI released ChatGPT late last year, which can respond to simple text input with complex, creative and conversational responses. Leading technology companies and investors are pouring billions of dollars into the big language models behind so-called generative AI.

The technology has such potential power that major players in space have expressed public concerns about moving too fast. In an open letter in May, experts and industry leaders wrote that “reducing the risk of extinction due to artificial intelligence should become a global priority, alongside other societal risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

The latest commitment is part of President Biden’s efforts to ensure AI development comes with appropriate safeguards without stifling innovation. Congress is considering rules related to artificial intelligence, though it could take months or years before the standards are implemented as lawmakers continue to learn from experts about how the technology works and the risks involved.

Executives scheduled to attend Friday’s White House meeting include Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky, Anthropic CEO Dario Amadei, Google Global Head Kent Walker, Inflection CEO Mustafa Suleiman, Meta Global Head Nick Clegg, Microsoft President Brad Smith and OpenAI President Greg Brockman.

The Biden administration said it has already consulted with many other countries about voluntary commitments and is working to make sure they complement international efforts when it comes to placing fences around the technology.

In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Friday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo called the latest promise “the bride of regulation.”

“It will be some time before Congress can pass legislation to regulate artificial intelligence,” Raimondo said. “But the president, to his great credit, also knows we don’t have time. AI is moving so fast, faster than any technology we’ve ever seen.”

Raimondo called the pledge “a first step,” but an important one.

“These companies are committed to real transparency by working with third parties to test models, by working with the United States government to test models and share information,” she said. “Don’t underestimate the power of that transparency and the fact that they know we’re watching and their customers are watching to hold them accountable.”

The US still lacks national digital privacy protections and has been slow to regulate new technologies. Raimondo said artificial intelligence is in a category of its own and that the administration is committed to working with Congress.

“We can’t afford to wait for that,” Raimondo said. “Artificial intelligence is different. How the power of artificial intelligence, the potential of artificial intelligence, the pros and cons are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.”

Vice President Kamala Harris previously hosted AI leaders and labor and civil liberties experts to discuss AI-related issues.

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