In a significant move reflecting growing concerns about the risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI), President Joe Biden issued an executive order aimed at ensuring the safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use of AI technology. The decision to take action on AI safety comes after President Biden watched the latest Tom Cruise movie, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” where Cruise’s character battles a sentient AI entity that threatens global security.
Biden’s concerns ignite action on AI
During the screening of the movie, President Biden, accompanied by White House deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, was exposed to a storyline in which AI, known as “The Entity,” takes control of a submarine, leading to catastrophic consequences. The fictional scenario portrayed in the movie seems to have intensified President Biden’s existing concerns about AI and its potential risks.
The President’s decision to issue an executive order addressing AI risks raises questions about why similar concerns were not raised earlier, considering the long history of AI-related dystopian narratives in films like “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” However, the timing of this executive order reflects the evolving landscape of AI and its growing real-world implications.
Just five months ago, over 350 leading AI scientists and notable figures from around the world issued a statement highlighting the need to prioritize mitigating the risks associated with AI, even comparing it to the gravity of global threats like pandemics and nuclear war. The term “extinction” used in the statement caught the world’s attention, emphasizing the severity of the potential risks posed by AI.
The White House took note of this statement and decided to take action. Teams were formed to develop a response, ultimately culminating in the issuance of the 19,704-word executive order. This executive order aims to address the concerns surrounding AI’s development and its potential for unintended consequences.
The scope of the executive order
The executive order issued by President Biden is comprehensive and prescriptive in its approach to regulating AI technology. While its intent is to enhance AI safety and mitigate potential risks, it also raises questions about its impact on the industry’s growth. Regulations often favor established players, potentially strengthening the position of major tech companies often referred to as the “big six”: Microsoft, Apple, Meta, Alphabet, Nvidia, and Amazon.
The order’s extensive scope encompasses various aspects of AI development and deployment, including research, funding, and international cooperation. It emphasizes the need for transparency, accountability, and adherence to ethical guidelines in the AI sector.
Coinciding with the issuance of the executive order in the United States, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosted the two-day Global AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. The historic location, known for its role as the headquarters of Britain’s code-breaking efforts during World War II, served as an appropriate backdrop for discussions about AI safety.
The summit gathered experts, policymakers, and industry leaders from around the world to discuss AI safety concerns and potential solutions. It signifies the global recognition of the importance of addressing the risks associated with AI technology.