Can AI Be Regulated? Differing Perspectives


Jimmy Wales’ Skepticism

Jimmy Wales, however, founder of Wikipedia, holds a skeptical view of regulating artificial intelligence (AI). He believes that expecting organizations like the United Nations (UN) to regulate AI is akin to “magical thinking.” In his view, Wales contends that politicians and their aides often lack a comprehensive understanding of the internet and its possibilities, making such regulation impractical.

The UN’s Involvement

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has taken steps to address AI’s potential dangers. Specifically, including AI-powered cyberattacks, misinformation spread by AI, and AI’s interaction with nuclear weapons. As part of his efforts, he has established a UN panel, the High-Level Advisory Body for Artificial Intelligence, comprising government experts, industry representatives, civil society members, and academics. The panel aims to explore global regulation and is set to release initial findings later this year.

AI Insiders’ Skepticism

Some AI experts, like Pierre Haren, who has researched AI for 45 years, are skeptical about the effectiveness of global AI regulation. Haren’s argument is that due to non-cooperative nations like North Korea and Iran, crafting universally recognized regulations is unfeasible. He believes that countries with differing agendas and a lack of cooperation will not adhere to such regulations.

The Urgency of AI Governance

Reinhard Scholl, founder of the UN’s “AI For Good” program, emphasizes the importance of AI regulation. He highlights that it draws a parallel with industries like automotive and toy manufacturing, which are subject to safety regulations. Scholl’s primary concern is that AI facilitates the acquisition of dangerous capabilities by bad actors. He firmly believes that AI governance is essential to prevent misuse.

Suggested Regulatory Models

Robert Opp, the Chief Digital Officer for the UN Development Programme, supports the idea of creating a regulatory body similar to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). In his view, this body could help strike a balance between utilizing AI for positive purposes, such as economic growth and poverty reduction, and preventing its misuse.

Diverse Perspectives

While the debate over AI regulation continues, it remains a contentious issue. To further illustrate this, Jimmy Wales argues that the international community’s focus on regulating tech giants like Google may miss the countless individual software developers using freely available AI software. Ultimately, the outcome of this debate will have implications for the future of AI governance and its global impact.

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