Joe Biden addresses UN on international AI regulation: ‘It’s going to take all of us’

In a Sept. 19 address to the United Nations, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed an urgent need for preemptive regulation of artificial intelligence, inverting the existing paradigm that has seen a scramble to create regulations for such products post-release.

Biden emphasized the “enormous potential and enormous peril” of artificial intelligence and urged for proactive measures to ensure these emerging technologies serve as “tools of opportunity, not as weapons of oppression.”

The cart before the horse

The President’s comments resonate with the recent surge of regulatory discussions surrounding artificial intelligence. AI’s potential misuse has been a primary concern, a sentiment shared by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who urged U.S. lawmakers to regulate AI during a Senate hearing in May.

As part of Biden’s address, he affirmed the United States’ commitment to “working through this institution and other international bodies and directly with leaders around the world… to ensure we govern AI, and not the other way around.”

The President’s remarks align with international efforts to bolster AI safety and regulation measures, such as the UK government’s upcoming AI Safety Summit. The summit, scheduled for this November at Bletchley Park, is designed to establish a shared understanding of AI-related risks and encourage international collaboration.

Regulatory actions on AI have also been seen domestically in the U.S., with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposing rules to mitigate conflicts of interest arising from companies’ use of predictive data analytics and AI

Meanwhile, tech companies are lobbying for regulation that supports open-source development. For instance, several European AI companies, including GitHub and HuggingFace, have expressed concerns over the European Union’s upcoming AI Act. They argue that the act’s focus on the application layer and its vague definitions could hinder the growth of the AI sector.

Biden’s remarks at the UN underscore a broader trend: the need for deliberate, international collaboration on preemptive AI regulation that balances the technology’s transformative potential with its potential threats. As AI continues to advance, striking this balance will become increasingly crucial.

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