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Editorial: Get ahead of the curve: America should join Global Partnership on AI

The Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Op Eds

Forthcoming developments in artificial intelligence are poised to create dramatic changes for people and economies throughout the world. Getting out in front of this burgeoning issue, with research, debate and regulation, is vital.

But the Trump administration has elected not to join the Global Partnership on AI, making the United States the only G-7 country not to participate in what is expected to become a premier forum for monitoring and debating the policy implications of artificial intelligence.

The White House argues that the body is unnecessary, and that it will ultimately slow AI development and economic progress, particularly for American-based tech companies. "Our concerns are that the group could be too heavy-handed," said Lynne Parker, U.S. deputy chief technology officer, in an interview with Wired magazine.

Rather, the administration has proposed its own, vague guidelines for future AI regulation, which aim to both ensure "openness, transparency, safety and security" without establishing restrictions that "needlessly hamper AI innovation and growth."

The guidelines are sensible and open-ended enough to allow for future revision and greater specificity as AI develops and regulations are proposed. But this should not prevent the U.S. from signing onto the Global Partnership on AI.

The recommendations and principles formed by the Global Partnership would not be legally binding, and it would not be allowed to regulate private companies. Instead, the body would allow for collaboration among government, industry and academia, to allow all parties to better understand developments with AI. This would allow for further debate about how best to limit uses of the technology, particularly those that would infringe upon civil liberties or human rights.

 

Refusing to participate in the Global Partnership, given the looming importance of its subject and the nonbinding nature of its activities, amounts to little more than obstinance. The Trump administration should reconsider its position, understanding that the ultimate impacts of AI will reach far beyond our own borders.

(c)2020 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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