WASHINGTON: The United States and like-minded countries like India need to work together to shape the course of artificial intelligence, Arti Prabhakar, the Science Adviser to President Joe Biden, said today.
The US administration has roped in several IT giants like Google and Microsoft to ensure that it is not misused and is being used for public good.
“The work that we are doing includes working with companies to hold them accountable and there’s some important progress on that today. We’re also working on executive actions that we can take within existing law, and the President is considering an executive order that we think can really boost our ability to deal with AI’s harms and also start using it for good,” Indian-American Prabhakar told Press Trust of India in an interview.
“That’s what we can do from the executive branch. We’ll also continue to work with Congress on bipartisan legislation as they start putting legislation forward. Then critically and underpinning all of this is the work that we’re doing globally with our international partners and allies, including with India,” Dr Prabhakar said.
“And that is because this is a global technology. It’s everywhere. Everyone is participating and it’s really affecting, it’s going to affect everyone’s lives and we want to make sure that like-minded countries work together to shape the course of AI,” she said in response to a question.
Artificial Intelligence or AI, she said, was one of the important topics of discussion when President Joe Biden met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington last month.
“I think that’s very much on the minds of our global leaders when they meet with President Biden. That’s what happened with Prime Minister Modi and many others. I had the opportunity to be at Congress when the Prime Minister spoke and then at the State Dinner and then again at the luncheon that the Vice President and the Secretary of State hosted and artificial intelligence came up repeatedly in those conversations,” she said.
“In fact, the Prime Minister made a wonderful joke when he addressed Congress and he said he thought AI stood for America, India, which is another way of interpreting it. But I think really the theme of many of the conversations that have happened is exactly what you’re saying is we’re going to have to link arms and be clear about how to achieve safe AI so all of our citizens can benefit from it,” Dr Prabhakar said.
Dr Prabhakar, who spent half of her professional life in Silicon Valley and has her regular home in Palo Alto, said she senses the excitement about AI in Silicon Valley.
“What I would say is go build amazing applications for artificial intelligence because that is part of how we’re going to go forward and make sure while you’re doing it, to build AI that is safe and trustworthy so that it really does lift us up in the end,” she said.
On Friday, President Biden announced voluntary commitments that the administration has worked on with seven leading AI companies. These companies include Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, and some of the smaller AI companies. A number of tech companies, some of the biggest leaders in AI, are signing up for some commitments on safety, security and trust.
“It is such an important step that we’ve been able to achieve by holding these companies to account because it’s the first time that the industry has started to come together and take responsibility,” she said.
“Then we’re going to be working on what we need to do as an executive branch, and that will include figuring out how do we manage as AI makes voice cloning, makes fraud easier. As cybercrime becomes easier, some of these harms start advancing. How do we mitigate those harms within the laws and regulations that we already have?” she said.
“And then how do we start using AI for public purposes? How do we use it to deal with the climate crisis that we’re confronting? How do we use it to improve health outcomes for everyone here in America and around the world? So we’re seeing both the bright and the dark side and we’re actively working on both pieces,” she said.
Describing AI as the most powerful technology of this time, she said the president’s been clear that how it is used is going to express their values. But that’s true as well around the world.
“We know every part of the world is trying to use AI to create a future that expresses their values. I think we can disagree about lots of things in this country and around the world, but the one thing I think we would all of us would agree on is that we don’t want to live in a future that’s driven by technology, that’s shaped by authoritarian regimes,” Dr Prabhakar said.
“That’s is why I think it is so important for like-minded countries, for democratic countries to come together and make sure that we’re working together to use AI in ways that express our values,” said the top American scientific official.