President Biden Addresses AI CEOs at the White House Amidst Growing Ethical Concerns
May 7, 2023
On Thursday, President Joe Biden met with CEOs of top AI companies, including Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Anthropic. The objective wa to stress the significance of ensuring the safety of AI products before their deployment. At the meeting, Biden urged executives to address the risks associated with AI.
However, some AI experts criticized the exclusion of ethics researchers who have long warned of AI’s dangers. Meanwhile, generative AI models like ChatGPT have garnered immense popularity in recent months. By triggering a surge of tech hype and hastening the development of similar products.
The White House has expressed concerns about potential privacy violations, employment bias, and the possibility of using AI for spreading misinformation. During a “frank and constructive discussion” with executives, the administration called for greater transparency, safety assessments, and protection against malicious attacks.
The meeting was attended by high-profile figures. Such as Google’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, OpenAI’s Sam Altman, and Anthropic’s Dario Amodei.
Vice President Kamala Harris chaired the meeting, and a Twitter video showed President Biden “dropping by” to express his gratitude. Biden acknowledged the significant potential and danger of AI, and emphasized the importance of educating society about its safeguarding.
Last year, the administration issued the “AI Bill of Rights,” a set of guidelines to protect Americans from the negative impact of automated systems, including privacy violations, discrimination, and bias.
Critics Question Attendee Selection at White House AI meeting
While President Biden’s invitation to top AI executives highlighted executive interest in a crucial policy matter, critics were unimpressed by the meeting, raising questions about the selection of attendees from companies that they believe contributed to AI issues that the White House aims to address.
Dr. Timnit Gebru, an AI researcher, voiced her criticism on Twitter, stating that despite ongoing conversations with legislators and agencies, the industry still faces issues. She further called out the invitation of individuals who fired AI ethics researchers for raising concerns, calling on them to protect people’s rights.
In 2020, Google fired Dr. Timnit Gebru for co-authoring a research paper that highlighted potential risks and biases in large-scale language models, prompting criticism from the AI research community about the company’s commitment to AI ethics.
Elizabeth Renieris, an AI ethics researcher at the University of Oxford, also shared her disappointment with the meeting, tweeting that those invited were not the right people to determine what is needed to protect society from AI.
The criticism reflects a longstanding debate between the “AI safety” and “AI ethics” communities, with the former concerned about hypothetical existential risks from AI and the latter focused on the misapplications and impacts of current AI systems, including bias and misinformation.
AI Industry Critics Call for Inclusive Discussions and Ethical Responsibility
Dr. Brandeis Marshall suggested organizing a “counter-meeting” to the White House meeting that would include Hugging Face, the Distributed AI Research Institute, the UCLA Center of Critical Internet Inquiry, and the Algorithmic Justice League.
The move came after critics of the invitee companies’ ethical track records questioned the choice of attendees at the White House meeting. On the same day, the White House announced a $140 million investment to launch seven AI research institutes through the National Science Foundation.
Furthermore, Anthropic, Google, Hugging Face, Nvidia, OpenAI, and Stability AI will participate in public evaluations of their AI systems at DEF CON 31. Following the meeting, Vice President Kamala Harris stated that every company must comply with existing laws to protect the American people and has an ethical, moral, and legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their products. She looks forward to the follow through and follow up in the weeks to come.
the meeting between President Biden and top AI executives highlighted the significance of ensuring the safety of AI products before deployment. However, critics raised concerns about the selection of attendees, questioning the exclusion of ethics researchers who have long warned of AI’s dangers.
The criticism underscores the importance of inclusive discussions and ethical responsibility in the AI industry. As the AI industry continues to grow, it is crucial to address the potential risks associated with AI and promote ethical and responsible practices.