"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Europe Steps Out Ahead Again on Tech Guardrails

This article today at WaPo illustrates the political and moral chasm between the U.S. and the European approach to protecting its citizens and the rest of the world against the grave harms that are in store for humanity unless international agreements can be hammered out to establish case-hardened boundaries for the development and spread of AI and antisocial media. 

In the WaPo story we have the Europeans celebrating passage of the EU AI Act, which moves the Continent closer to hard and fixed parameters for AI R&D by tech giants and entrepreneurs, alike. The legislation would 

. . . ban systems that present an “unacceptable level of risk,” such as predictive policing tools, or social scoring systems, like those used in China to classify people based on their behavior and socioeconomic status. The legislation also sets new limits on “high-risk AI,” like systems that could influence voters in elections or introduce harms to people’s health.

The legislation would set new guardrails on generative AI, requiring content created by systems like ChatGPT to be labeled. The bill also requires models to publish summaries of copyrighted data used for training, a potential impediment for systems that generate humanlike speech by scraping text from the internet, often from sources that include a copyright symbol.

The story also has real villains like the greedy bastards of Silicon Valley, who respond with threats that American AI companies "may be forced to pull out of Europe, depending on what’s included in the final text."

The story contrasts the difference between Europe's process of regulatory policy making with the U.S. system.  Whereas the former has been working for some years now to develop guidelines that allow companies to innovate and make money while safeguarding humanity, we have the latter who are just beginning to straggle into a Schumer-sponsored meeting on the Hill where about half of the Senators showed up wanting to know what AI means. As Schumer noted, American politicians "have a lot to learn."

Meanwhile, some U. S. politicians are concerned that the U. S. will fall behind the Europeans in development of regulatory policy, while others (guess which party) are more concerned about losing the lead in "incentivizing the creation of more AI technology" than they are about protecting humanity.

Some things never change. Until they do, of course.

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