Google CEO Calls For Regulation Of Artificial Intelligence

Ruben Fields
January 20, 2020

The comments come weeks before the European Union is set to unveil its plans to legislate the technology, which could include new legally binding requirements for AI developers in "high-risk sectors", such as healthcare and transport, according to an early draft obtained by Bloomberg. "It's up to governments to charter the course" for the use of such technology.

Pichai said it was important to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong with AI, and that while it promised huge benefits there were real concerns about potential negative consequences.

Meanwhile, the U.S. administration has urged European lawmakers to avoid heavy regulation frameworks in the future rollout of Artificial Intelligence technologies, saying the bloc should "avoid heavy-handed innovation-killing models" and adopt an approach similar to the US. Internal combustion engines allowed people to travel beyond their own areas but also caused more accidents.

Pichai, also boss of Google's parent company Alphabet, argued before an audience at a Brussels think tank, Bruegel, that companies like his own - an internet behemoth valued at US$1 trillion - need to be given a say as governments formulate AI regulatory policy.

Pichai acknowledged that facial recognition could be used for "nefarious reasons", and said Google is not selling general-purpose facial recognition tools while it establishes policies and technical safeguards.

The Alphabet CEO stressed that "international alignment will be critical to making global standards work" on AI.

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Recognizing that Google and Alphabet themselves use AI extensively, from Android smartphones to Waymo self-driving cars, Pichai said: "Companies such as ours can not just build promising new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used".

There was no question AI needs to be regulated, Pichai said, but rulemakers should tread carefully. We offer our expertise, experience and tools as we navigate these issues together.

"Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities, " he said, adding that it could incorporate existing standards like Europe's tough General Data Protection Regulation rather than starting from scratch.

"AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so. By ensuring it is developed responsibly in a way that benefits everyone, we can inspire future generations to believe in the power of technology as much as I do".

Pichai emphasised that Google had adopted an ethical approach to developing AI.

The European Commission is considering measures to impose a temporary ban on facial recognition technologies used by both public and private actors, according to a draft white paper on Artificial Intelligence obtained by EURACTIV.

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