On 19 September 2023, the United States (US) President Joe Biden delivered an address to the United Nations (UN), emphasising the pressing necessity for proactive regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), a departure from the traditional approach that typically involves crafting regulations post-release.
He underscored the dual nature of AI, recognising its “enormous potential and enormous peril,” and called for pre-emptive measures to ensure that these emerging technologies are wielded as “tools of opportunity” rather than becoming instruments of oppression.
The President’s remarks align with the growing global discourse on regulating AI, driven by concerns about its potential misuse.
This sentiment resonates with figures like Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, who urged US lawmakers to initiate AI regulation during a Senate hearing in May.
During his UN address, the President reaffirmed the US’ commitment to collaborative governance of AI, both within international bodies and through direct engagement with world leaders.
This commitment mirrors broader international efforts aimed at enhancing AI safety and regulatory frameworks, exemplified by the upcoming UK government’s AI Safety Summit scheduled for November at Bletchley Park.
The summit seeks to establish a common understanding of AI-related risks and foster global cooperation.
In the US, regulatory actions concerning AI are also in progress, exemplified by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed rules to address conflicts of interest stemming from companies’ use of predictive data analytics and AI.
In parallel, tech companies are actively advocating for regulations that support open-source development.
European AI firms like GitHub and HuggingFace have expressed reservations regarding the European Union’s forthcoming AI Act, citing concerns about its focus on the application layer and vague definitions, which they fear could impede the AI sector’s growth.
The President’s UN address underscores a broader trend in the evolving AI landscape — a growing consensus on the necessity of international collaboration in crafting pre-emptive AI regulations that strike a balance between the technology’s transformative potential and its inherent risks.