To critics of regulation, the current A.I. arms race between the U.S. and China underscores the importance of letting American businesses run free: With stakes so high, slowing down A.I. development with burdensome rules is just too risky.
According to the White House’s top tech advisor, though, the ability to slow down can provide the control necessary to accelerate safely and ultimately win the race.
“It’s sort of like having brakes on a car,” said Dr. Arati Prabhakar, President Biden’s chief science and technology advisor and head of the White House Office of Science and Technology, speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Deer Valley, Utah, on Monday. Well-designed A.I. regulation, she said, “actually lets you go faster, once you know that you’re in control.”
In an onstage conversation with Fortune editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell, Prabhakar described the complex landscape of A.I. development and deployment, and the administration’s goal of striking a balance between innovation and safety.
“We know from a lot of history that means people are going to use it for good and they’re going to use it for ill, and so the task before us is to seize A.I.’s benefits,” Prabhakar said. “This administration is moving out very aggressively just to figure out how to do that in the most constructive possible way.”
Prabhakar, an expert in technology and policy, highlighted the vital role of regulation in shaping the deployment of A.I. technologies. As global debates intensify on regulating A.I., especially in military contexts and in Black and brown communities, ethical concerns and the risk of misuse are at the forefront as nations compete for technological supremacy.
“I do not want to live in a world that is filled with biosecurity risks because of A.I. I equally don’t want to live in a world in which a Black man’s getting arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, because a facial recognition system can’t recognize Black faces appropriately. Neither of those is acceptable. And so you’ll see us continue to work on all the different aspects,” Prabhakar said.
Prabhakar’s perspective underscores the belief that responsible regulation is not a roadblock but rather an essential mechanism to steer the course and ensure that the benefits of A.I. are harnessed safely and securely. It’s worth mentioning that OpenAI founder Sam Altman has been on a world tour showing officials how to use his product, ChatGPT, and encouraging balanced regulation to control the exponential growth of A.I.
“It’s not until people really come to trust this technology, that’s when we’re gonna get the full power of what A.I. can bring,” she said.