In what looks like inviting the foxes to a henhouse security forum, the biggest names in AI held a secret meeting in Washington, DC yesterday to advise Senate leaders on how to tackle the fast-growing AI industry can arrange.
San Francisco was the center of the artificial intelligence (AI) universe on Wednesday, as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman kicked off this year’s Dreamforce conference with a conversation about the state of AI.
But Washington, DC quickly became the center of the AI universe just one day later, as CNN reports that Altman, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, current Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt are the leading minds of the AI world brought to a closed-door session with senior senators to begin discussing how to regulate this red-hot, albeit not entirely reliable, new industry.
Also in attendance were Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang
Wednesday morning’s meeting was closed to the public and the press. But NBC News has some quotes from the executives and senators who came forward afterward, and so does the New York Times.
“We all share the same incentive to get this right,” Altman said, per the Times.
“When it comes to AI, we don’t have to think about autopilot. You have to have copilots,” Nadella said. Sen. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) then asked reporters, “So who’s going to look at this activity and make sure it’s done right?”
“The consequences of AI going wrong are dire, so we need to be proactive rather than reactive,” Elon Musk told reporters, according to NBC News. “The question is really one of civilizational risk. It’s not like … one group of people against another. It’s like, hey, this is something that’s potentially risky for all people everywhere.”
Musk is one of those tech figures who signed an open letter to halt AI research in March, despite regularly complaining about regulation. But there are legitimate fears that AI could lead to massive job losses, a flooding of the media ecosystem with completely inaccurate information, or thousands of self-driving cars just stopping, and whatever street chaos that could ensue.
“We have some consensus on some things,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told NBC News. “I asked everyone in the room, should the government play a role in regulating AI and every person raised their hand, even though they had different views. That gives us a message here that we have to try to act, so hard as the process may be.”
Per NBC News, Schumer also invited labor, civil rights and national security officials. But with all the tech CEOs present, you have a lot of people on board whose only concern with AI is to hype investors and promise eventual profits. So surely they aim to sell this as an almighty new tool and an investment opportunity you can’t miss.
But how “all-powerful” is this tool? Let’s take a look at a clearly AI-written article that has been on news aggregator MSN.com for almost 24 hours, following the death of former NBA player Brandon Hunter.
Yes, this article is actually headlined “Brandon Hunter useless at 42.”
It gets worse as it goes on! The unaligned article adds that “Former NBA player Brandon Hunter, who previously played for the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, has passed away at the age of 42,” adding that “Hunter’s expertise led to his choice, as the 56th overall decision within the 2003 NBA Draft.”
So the tech titans can whip up hysteria about the all-powerful new AI that can do everything better than humans. But there is no guarantee that the technology will ever live up to that potential, and realize that the CEOs are chasing investors with hype.
They can say that AI can kill humanity. But in its current weak state, AI is more, shall we say, useless at 42.
Related: Google’s Sundar Pichai and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Summoned to White House for Meeting on AI Risks (SFist)
Image: WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 13: (L-R) NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg visit before attending the “AI Insight Forum” outside the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on September 13, 2023 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers are seeking input from business leaders in the artificial intelligence industry, and some of its staunchest opponents, to write legislation governing the rapidly evolving technology. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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