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OpenAI CEO tells Senate to create new agency to handle AI

May 16, 2023

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U.S. senators expressed their concerns Tuesday, May 16, about the risks of artificial intelligence, as they heard testimony from the CEO of OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that promotes and develops AI. In the hearing, senators on both sides of the aisle expressed concern regarding ChatGPT’s ability to hallucinate, or produce false information, as it can affect public opinion.

OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman recommended that companies develop internal corporate policies to govern the use of AI, and that the U.S. government develop broader regulations for AI products.

“I would form a new agency that licenses any effort above a certain scale of capabilities and can take that license away and ensure compliance with safety standards,” Altman said.

Altman went on to recommend the development of specific tests that a model has to pass before it can be deployed into the world, as well as independent audits.

He also suggested the creation of an international agency that would create responsible standards for AI, and that Section 230 should not apply to AI.

When it comes to potential regulation, leaders in AI development have warned against being too heavy-handed, as that could harm innovation. IBM’s Chief Privacy and Trust Officer Christina Montgomery, who also testified Tuesday, recommended a “precision regulation” approach, which would mean governing AI deployment in specific use-cases — not regulating the technology itself.

NYU professor Gary Marcus was present, as well. Marcus and Altman were both asked for more specific recommendations regarding agencies, policy and regulation, but they pointed out that such advice is out of their purview.

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SHANNON LONGWORTH: IN A HEARING ABOUT AI REGULATION WITH OPENAI’S CEO SAM ALTMAN TODAY…

SENATORS TALKED ABOUT USING CHATGPT.

LISTEN TO THIS–

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: “IF YOU WERE LISTENING FROM HOME YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT THAT VOICE WAS MINE AND THE WORDS FROM ME. BUT IN FACT THAT VOICE WAS NOT MINE, THE WORDS WERE NOT MINE. AND THE AUDIO WAS AN AI-VOICE CLONING SOFTWARE TRAINED ON MY FLOOR SPEECHES. THE REMARKS WERE WRITTEN BY CHATGPT.”

SENATORS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE WERE CONCERNED, AS THE CHATBOT OFTEN PRODUCES FALSE INFORMATION—CALLED HALLUCINATIONS–POSING A RISK FOR DISINFORMATION THAT CAN AFFECT PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.

SAM ALTMAN: “MY WORST FEARS ARE THAT WE CAUSE SIGNIFICANT–WE, THE FIELD, THE TECHNOLOGY, THE INDUSTRY, CAUSE SIGNIFICANT HARM TO THE WORLD. I THINK THAT COULD HAPPEN A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS. IT’S WHY WE STARTED THE COMPANY.”

LONGWORTH: ALTMAN RECOMMENDED INTERNAL CORPORATE POLICIES AND BROADER REGULATION AND FOR AI PRODUCTS.

ALTMAN: “NUMBER ONE, I WOULD FORM A NEW AGENCY THAT LICENSES ANY EFFORT ABOVE A CERTAIN SCALE OF CAPABILITIES AND CAN TAKE THAT LICENSE AWAY AND ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH SAFETY STANDARDS. NUMBER TWO, I WOULD CREATE A SET OF SAFETY STANDARDS FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU SAID IN YOUR THIRD HYPOTHESIS.” “SPECIFIC TESTS THAT A MODEL HAS TO PASS BEFORE IT CAN BE DEPLOYED INTO THE WORLD. AND THEN, THIRD, I WOULD REQUIRE INDEPENDENT AUDITS.”

LONGWORTH: ALTMAN WENT SO FAR AS TO SUGGEST THE CREATION OF AN INTERNATIONAL AGENCY THAT WOULD CREATE RESPONSIBLE STANDARDS FOR AI. AND THAT—FOR AI—THERE SHOULD BE NEWER LEGISLATION THAN SECTION 230, WHICH PROTECTS PLATFORMS FROM LIABILITY FOR THIRD-PARTY CONTENT.

WHEN IT COMES TO POTENTIAL REGULATION, LEADERS IN THEIR SPHERE HAVE WARNED AGAINST BEING TOO HEAVY-HANDED, AS THAT COULD HARM INNOVATION. IBM’S CHIEF PRIVACY AND TRUST OFFICER, CHRISTINA MONTGOMERY, WHO ALSO TESTIFIED TODAY, RECOMMENDED A “PRECISION REGULATION” APPROACH, WHICH WOULD MEAN GOVERNING AI DEPLOYMENT IN SPECIFIC USE-CASES—NOT REGULATING THE TECHNOLOGY ITSELF.

NYU PROFESSOR GARY MARCUS WAS PRESENT, AS WELL. HE AND ALTMAN WERE BOTH ASKED FOR MORE SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING AGENCIES, POLICY AND REGULATION, BUT THEY POINTED OUT THAT SUCH ADVICE IS OUT OF THEIR PURVIEW.