Anthony Blinken and Gina Raimondo: To shape the future of AI, we must act fast

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The two books are the US Secretary of State and the US Secretary of Commerce

Abraham Lincoln once observed: “In the history of the world there have been some inventions and discoveries of particular value . . . in facilitating all other inventions and discoveries.” Lincoln was talking about the written word, and then about the printing press. But today we live through another such invention: artificial intelligence.

Powerful generative AI systems like GPT-4 usher in a new era of this technology. They are revolutionizing knowledge production: dramatically increasing the ability of machines to create original content, perform complex tasks and solve important problems. They also significantly reduce the barriers to people’s access to AI and its benefits.

This new era brings serious potential dangers. These include the risks of AI generating misinformation, reinforcing bias and discrimination, and misusing it for repressive or destabilizing purposes or spreading knowledge to create a biological weapon or launch a cyberattack.

But even with these risks—which we are determined to reduce—AI has exhilarating potential to improve people’s lives and help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, from curing cancer to mitigating climate change to solving global food insecurity.

The future of AI — whether it makes our societies more or less equal, unlocks breakthroughs or becomes a tool for authoritarianism — is up to us. The question is not whether to use it, but how.

The United States, as home to many of the leading companies, technologies, and minds driving the AI ​​revolution, has the ability and responsibility to lead its governance. We are committed to doing this in partnership with others around the world to ensure that the future reflects our shared values ​​and vision for this technology.

We have already taken action to guide the use of AI. We’ve laid out a blueprint for AI rights law with principles for how automated systems should be designed and used, and we’ve developed an AI risk management framework to help improve user protection.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced The Next Step with a set of commitments from leading companies designed to enhance safety, security, and trust. These commitments will mitigate AI risks including abuse, and support new technologies and standards for distinguishing human content from AI-generated content. They will encourage companies and individuals to communicate systems capabilities and limitations, and facilitate information sharing. And they will promote the development of artificial intelligence systems designed to meet society’s greatest challenges.

The commitments provide a starting point for action to reduce risks in the near term while promoting innovation. These will be complemented by major lines of effort with partners around the world.

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to work with the Group of Seven major industrialized nations through the Japanese-led Hiroshima process to expand and internationalize these commitments. We want AI governance to be guided by democratic values ​​and those who embrace them, and action led by the G7 can inform an international code of conduct for private actors and governments, as well as common regulatory principles for nations. As we coordinate globally, we will also align our domestic approaches in forums such as the US-EU Technology and Trade Council.

We will work extensively with other governments to build a common understanding of the long-term risks of AI and how to reduce them. The United States is looking forward to participating in the UK’s Global Summit on AI Safety and other opportunities for global engagement to build a safer future.

The United States is committed to making AI work for developing countries, and to designing governance with them, whose voices are crucial to the global discussion. India will play a crucial role, including through the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence. We are also working on inclusiveness for AI through discussions with the United Nations.

We will partner with countries around the world, as well as the private sector and civil society, to achieve a key goal of the Commitments: to create AI systems that make people’s lives better. Today, we are on track to achieve just 12 percent of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. AI can change this course by accelerating efforts to provide clean water and sanitation, eradicate poverty, enhance public health, and achieve more other development goals.

To shape the future of AI, we must act fast. We must also act collectively. No country or company can shape the future of AI on its own. The United States has taken an important step—but only with the combined focus, ingenuity, and cooperation of the international community will we be able to fully and safely harness the potential of artificial intelligence.

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