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AI: Tech companies must ensure product safety, says Biden

April 5, 2023

The US president's remarks come on the sidelines of a science and technology meeting as controversy over ChatGPT grows. Canada is meanwhile probing the AI chatbot over alleged unauthorized use of data.

Google displayed on screen with Microsoft Bing - ChatGPT double photo exposure on mobile, seen in this photo illustration.
Biden's meeting came amid growing discomfort around the fastpaced AI advancementImage: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto/IMAGO

Technology companies must ensure the safety of their products before they are released to the public, US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, as he convened his council of science and technology advisers amid growing concerns regarding artificial intelligence (AI).

Tuesday's council meeting centered around the risks and opportunities AI's rapid advancements pose, both for individual users and for national security.

"AI can help deal with some very difficult challenges like disease and climate change, but it also has to address the potential risks to our society, to our economy, to our national security," Biden said.

The meeting included executives from Microsoft and Google, the two rivals currently locked in a competition over AI chatbots.

Since Microsoft took the lead with throwing its weight behind ChatGPT shortly after its launch late last year, the technology has taken the world by storm, with many questioning the ramifications of such rapid AI advancement.

Biden said on Tuesday that "it remains to be seen" whether AI is dangerous.

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Canada probes ChatGPT

Biden's meeting came amid growing global discomfort with the revolutionary AI chatbot, with widening probes and calls for caution.

On Tuesday, Canada said it has opened an investigation into the US-based firm which introduced ChatGPT, accusing it of collecting, using and disclosing personal information without consent.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it was looking into a complaint filed against US firm OpenAI.

"We need to keep up with — and stay ahead of — fast-moving technological advances, and that is one of my key focus areas," said Canadian privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne.

Last week, Italy became the first Western country to temporarily block the chatbot, citing data privacy concerns.

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Bill Gates cautions against pausing AI development

The growing calls to slow down the AI advancement, including from tech enthusiast Elon Musk, were also met with other opposing voices.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates defended the technology, saying pausing AI development would not "solve the challenges" ahead. Microsoft's embracing of ChatGPT technology prompted rival Google to fast-track its very own AI chatbot project.

"Clearly there's huge benefits to these things … what we need to do is identify the tricky areas," Gates said in an interview with Reuters news agency. He said the best course of action would be to maximize on the developments in AI, rather than hinder the technology.

ChatGPT has gained wide global attention for its ability to generate essays, songs, poems and even news articles from brief prompts.

Critics have raised concerns about the lack of transparency on how ChatGPT and similar softwares collect and process users' data.

rmt/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)