Sundar Pichai Calls For AI Regulation

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet, on Monday, urged the U.S. and European Union (EU) to take a proportionate approach to regulate AI (Artificial Intelligence) when drafting rules for AI.

According to Pichai, although technology brings positive benefits to companies and law enforcement agencies, it also has “negative consequences.”

“Now there is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to. The only question is how to approach it,” Pichai said while speaking at the event hosted by European think-tank Bruegel on Monday.

“Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms, especially in high-risk areas, with social opportunities,” he added.

Talking about positive developments that AI can bring, Pichai pointed Google’s recent work that can spot breast cancer more accurately than doctors or provide real-time hyperlocal forecasts of rainfall, among other things. He also warned that “history is full of examples of how technology’s virtues aren’t guaranteed”.

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One of the areas of concern pertaining to AI is the so-called “deep fakes” – video and audio clips that have been manipulated using AI. Pichai said Google had released open datasets to help the research community build better tools to detect such fakes.

Another area is facial recognition technology, which can very well be used for “nefarious reasons.”

Pichai pointed to Google’s own published principles on AI in 2018 but said that existing standards like Europe’s tough General Data Protection Regulation (GRDP) could be used to serve as a basis for AI regulation.

He noted that there is an important role for governments to play and that “international alignment will be critical” to help ensure the safety of humanity in the face of AI.

“International alignment will be critical to making global standards work. To get there, we need agreement on core values. Companies such as ours cannot just build promising new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used. It is equally incumbent on us to make sure that technology is harnessed for good and available to everyone,” Pichai said.

He also added that the search giant wants to work with others on creating regulation as a helpful and engaged partner.

“Google’s role starts with recognising the need for a principled and regulated approach to applying AI, but it doesn’t end there. We want to be a helpful and engaged partner to regulators as they grapple with the inevitable tensions and trade-offs. We offer our expertise, experience and tools as we navigate these issues together.

“AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so. By ensuring it is developed responsibly in a way that benefits everyone, we can inspire future generations to believe in the power of technology as much as I do.”

Pichai is the latest to join the bandwagon calling for AI regulations. Brad Smith, President of Microsoft Corp., Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk too in the past have called for tougher rules for AI.

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