Whether the place that you live has self-driving cars or not, the fact is, if you access the internet in any way, you have come across something that AI influences greatly. From intelligent home appliances like refrigerators and vacuum cleaners to more complex applications such as driving a car or selecting ads that would have some meaning to you, AI has become all-pervasive and all-encompassing in this day and age.
While its proponents claim AI will revolutionize the human experience, critics point out that the technology has the massive risk of handing over important choices to robots.
However, lawmakers in Europe and North America are still catching up to AI advancements in the last couple of years and only starting to think of regulating it.
The AI Act, a piece of law, intended to control the algorithm age, is expected to be approved by the European Union next year. A draft of an AI Bill of Rights was recently released in the United States, and legislation is also being considered in Canada.
China’s use of AI has been totalitarian – their use of biometric data, facial recognition, and other technology to create a robust control system has loomed big in the discussions.
But even before AI can be regulated, it is pertinent that AI gets codified and defined, which is daunting.
Suresh Venkatasubramanian, the co-author of the AI Bill of Rights and professor at Brown University, has claimed that even trying to define what exactly AI is will always end up being “a mug’s game.”
He said the measure should cover any technology that harms people’s rights.
To that end, the European Union strives to define the subject as broadly as possible but has often run into issues. In its proposed law, virtually every automated computer system is considered AI. This particular issue is caused by the shifts in how the term AI is used.
For decades, AI or sentience described attempts to create machines that simulated human thinking. But funding largely dried up for this research, also known as symbolic AI, in the early 2000s.
With the rise of the Silicon Valley titans, AI was reborn as a catch-all label for their number-crunching programs and the algorithms they generated. Again, there was some processing, but not like how humans think.
Nevertheless, this automation allowed them to target users with advertising and content, helping them to make hundreds of billions of dollars. This automation allowed them to target users with advertising and content, helping them to make hundreds of billions of dollars.
The US, the west, and the EU have tried to be as broad as possible with their definitions of AI. However, this is where the similarities end, for their approach is as different as chalk and cheese after this point.
The EU’s draft AI Act runs to more than 100 pages. Among its most eye-catching proposals are the complete prohibition of certain “high-risk” technologies — the kind of biometric surveillance tools used in China. It also drastically limits the use of AI tools by migration officials, police, and judges.
On the other hand, the US’ AI Bill of Rights is a short set of principles framed in aspirational language, with exaltations like “you should be protected from unsafe or ineffective systems.”
The White House issued the bill and heavily relied on existing law. Experts reckon no dedicated AI legislation is likely in the United States until 2024 because of the presidential elections.
No matter what the approach is, what cannot be denied is the fact that regulation is needed, especially when you consider just how powerful specific language models, the AI behind chatbots and ChatGPT have become, and how well they cannot only converse but also influence one’s decision making.