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Sam Altman Warns of Potential AI Threat to Senate, Calls for ”AI Regulation”

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Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and the creator of ChatGPT, testified before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to regulate artificial intelligence. Altman expressed concern about the potential for AI to be used for malicious purposes, such as spreading misinformation or creating deep fakes. He also said that AI could have a negative impact on jobs and the economy. Altman called for the creation of a new federal agency to regulate AI, and he suggested that the agency should focus on ensuring that AI is used for good and that it does not pose a threat to society.

During the extensive three-hour hearing, various topics were explored concerning the potential societal risks associated with generative AI, its impact on the job market, and the necessity for government regulations.

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Embarking on a series of hearings, Tuesday’s session marked the beginning of a critical legislative journey aimed at crafting regulations that tackle the ethical, legal, and national security implications of AI. Delving into the subject, here are few significant insights gleaned from the thought-provoking hearing:

Hearing began with a deep fake AI generated voice

The hearing commenced with a remarkable demonstration by Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, who played an AI-generated audio recording that flawlessly imitated his own voice.

“In many instances, we have witnessed the repercussions of technology surpassing regulatory frameworks. From the rampant misuse of personal data and the spread of disinformation to the exacerbation of societal inequalities, the consequences have been profound. Algorithmic biases perpetuate discrimination and prejudice, while the lack of transparency erodes public trust. “This is not the future we envision,” the voice declared.

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As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, Blumenthal disclosed that he did not personally craft or deliver the speech, but instead relied on the AI chatbot ChatGPT to generate the remarks.

This occurrence involved a deep fake, a form of synthetic media trained on existing content to convincingly simulate the appearance or voice of a real individual.

AI has the potential to bring significant harm

Amidst political divides that have hindered internet regulation efforts, Sam Altman took the stage to advocate for new regulations on Big Tech, emphasizing the potential risks associated with artificial intelligence.

Altman candidly expressed his apprehensions regarding AI, stating, “My gravest concerns revolve around the possibility of our field, the technology, and the industry inflicting substantial harm upon the world. If this technology veers off track, the consequences can be severe.”

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AI regulation is required

Altman likened the current AI boom to a potential “printing press moment” but stressed the necessity for appropriate safeguards. He asserted, “We firmly believe that regulatory intervention by governments will play a crucial role in mitigating the risks posed by increasingly powerful AI models.”

During the hearing, Christina Montgomery, IBM’s Vice President and Chief Privacy and Trust Officer, and Gary Marcus, a former professor at New York University, also provided testimony.

Montgomery urged Congress to adopt a precision regulation approach towards AI, emphasizing the importance of establishing specific rules to govern its deployment in various use cases, rather than regulating the technology itself.

Marcus proposed that the subcommittee consider the establishment of a new federal agency responsible for reviewing AI programs prior to their public release. “As more genies emerge from their respective bottles,” he said, “if you are introducing something to a hundred million people, there must be oversight and accountability.”

The issue of job substitution is still unsettled

The issue of job substitution in relation to AI remains unresolved, according to both Altman and Montgomery, who acknowledged that while some jobs may be eliminated, new opportunities will emerge as well. Altman emphasized the need for collaboration between industry and government, with a particular emphasis on government action, to effectively address and mitigate the impact on employment. He expressed optimism about the promising nature of future jobs.

Montgomery emphasized the significance of preparing the workforce for AI-related skills through training and education, considering it the most crucial aspect that needs attention.

Misinformation in relation to the upcoming US elections

In regards to the impact of generative AI on voter influence, Altman highlighted concerns surrounding the potential manipulation of voters and the dissemination of disinformation. He expressed that these concerns rank high on his list, particularly given the approaching election next year and the continuous improvement of AI models.

To address these risks, Altman informed that OpenAI has implemented policies to mitigate potential harm. For instance, the use of ChatGPT for generating extensive amounts of campaign materials is strictly prohibited.

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