Joe Biden warns of AI dangers, urges tech companies to make safe products

Social media has already illustrated the harm that powerful technologies can do without the right safeguards, said the President.
Ameya Paleja
File photo of Joe Biden
File photo of Joe Biden.

The White House/ Wikimedia Commons 

U.S. President Joe Biden warned of the dangers of using artificial intelligence (AI) while putting the onus on making safe products on technology companies. President Biden said this at the beginning of a meeting of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

The sharp rise in the rollout of AI products over the past few months has the world divided. While some are keen to see innovative and creative outputs from computers, others such as Elon Musk, are not very keen on the pace of developments.

Although Musk was one of the co-founders of OpenAI. Recently the Tesla CEO co-signed a letter asking for a six-month moratorium on AI research and stopping companies from releasing products more powerful than GPT-4.

Lessons from social media experience

Biden's comments did not support the extreme stance taken by Musk and others, but he wasn't completely supportive of AI either. While mentioning that the technology could be a great helping hand in solving problems like diseases and climate change, the U.S. President also pointed out potential risks such as those to national security, society, and the economy arising from AI usage.

Joe Biden warns of AI dangers, urges tech companies to make safe products
Human interaction with AI can have unforeseen outcomes

Biden used the example of social media to point out the dangers of powerful technologies when they were made available without the right safeguards. He made it a point to mention the impact on mental health, feelings, and hopelessness, especially in young people due to the absence of safeguards in social media usage.

During the meeting, Biden reiterated a call to pass the privacy legislation that limits user data collected by tech companies, putting an end to advertising targeting children, and asking companies to focus on health and safety during product development. Biden also said that it was the responsibility of technology companies to make sure that their products were safe before being released to the public.

The Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Policy (CAIDP), a tech ethics group in the U.S. has called upon the Federal Trade Commission to prevent OpenAI from commercially releasing GPT-4, SCMP said in its report.

The rapid rise of AI is also catching the eye of regulators with Italy becoming the first Western nation to institute a ban on ChatGPT. Although the ban was a result of a privacy breach, it does set the stage for countries to put an outright ban on an AI product to gauge its pros and cons, before making it available to the public at large.

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