Unbalance of Media

Popular media does not deal in balance. The way the press would deal with the porridge problem is one sided. They would tell the story of a child who suffered horrific burns to their tongue due to consuming boiling porridge.

A Goldilocks Problem

Headlined ‘Mouth Burn Porridge Hell’, the story would be five paragraphs. In these paragraphs would be details of gruesome injuries suffered as a result of porridge that was too hot.

The Balance

The last paragraph, included to provide ‘balance’, would be a quote from a spokesperson from the Right to Hot Porridge Association. “The RHPA expresses their deep sympathy to the child in question. However we would point out that 99.87% of hot porridge consumed has no harmful effects”.

On Saturday the Guardian published an article headlined: “Tech firms say laws to protect us from bad AI will limit ‘innovation’. Well, good.”

Regulation & Governing AI

Regulation in any sector is a Goldilocks problem.

Too little regulation and bad actors will do bad things that can be hugely detrimental to society. The 2008 financial crisis, Enron, the Fukushima nuclear disaster for example. These all have direct attributes to too little regulation.

Some Examples of Poor Regulation

Generative AI and the designed development for regulatory frameworks for AI face the same issues as many other relations. Here are some poor regulation examples from the white house & the UK.

Charging Interest on Loans

Too much regulation prevents progress for centuries charging interest on loans was illegal. Lending money is important for societal progress because it enables people without personal wealth to start and expand businesses. Or to access and benefit from education and to own and trade assets. Preventing this stifles economic growth and prevents the creation of jobs.

Married Women in State Jobs

Up to 1940, 26 states in the US had regulations to prevent married women working in state government jobs. This blocked both the progress of the women denied those jobs and also the institutions themselves.

Buying & Selling on Sundays

It is hard to remember that, until 1994, it was illegal to buy and sell in the UK on a Sunday. It is increasingly hard to find anyone in the UK who now believes that Sunday trading regulation was a good thing.

Regulation Keeping up with AI Development

Regulation is a particularly thorny issue in tech. The vast majority of legislators simply do not understand it.

Science & Technology Developing Faster Than Regulation

Technology moves very fast. In the past 12 months AI technology has moved very fast indeed. Legislation moves painfully slowly. With legislation virtually always lagging technological innovation the temptation can be to over-regulate in the short-term.

The European Union AI Act and an 18th Century Clergyman

Nearly 300 years ago Reverend Thomas Bayes put forward the theorem on conditional probability that would bear his name. The British mathematician, Harold Jeffreys, described Bayes Theorem as “to the theory of probability what Pythagoras’s theorem is to geometry.”

Bayes Theorem

The probability of an event A, given that B has happened is equal to the probability of Event B. Given that A has happened, multiplied by the probability of Event A, all divided by the Probability of Event B.

Why am I mentioning this? The new EU AI Act explicitly seeks to regulate the use of Bayes Theorem. A centuries old piece of mathematics which remains critical to probability theory and statistics. That is an enormously broad definition of AI and one that has far-reaching unknowable consequences.

This feels like an example of legislative overreach based on lack of understanding. Rather than a proportionate response to a new technology.

Striving for balance & level of risk

Regulate too little and people and society are in danger. The Guardian article linked to above references the very real problems of algorithms churning out harmful content to children. AI systems that perpetuate and accentuate discrimination against minority groups and online.

Tech Companies

We want regulation that prevents these abuses. Clearly tech companies are not going to do this themselves or they would have done so already. Preventing abuse of technology costs money. For-profit organisations very rarely volunteer to spend additional money on non-revenue generating activities.

Protecting Users of AI

We want to regulate to protect children and to combat extremism and prejudice. We don’t want to legislate in such a way that would have prevented DeepMind solving protein folding. Or would stop diagnosing cancer more accurately and more quickly. People can suffer and die as a result of over-regulation as well as under-regulation.

AutogenAI’s perspective

At AutogenAI we care passionately about using technology for good. For example, my colleague, James Huckle, has written how we build our Language Engines to reflect the modern world as we would want it to be.

Can AI help us regulate AI?

I asked AutogenAI’s general Language Engine “How could the government regulate the tech industry better?” Here are 10 ideas that the Artificial Intelligence came up with:

1) Work with industry leaders to create clear rules and regulations regarding the use of AI.

2) Create incentives for companies to develop new technologies that promote the general good.

3) Invest in research and development to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of the tech industry.

4) Develop universal standards and best practices in collaboration with think tanks, universities and business.

5) Increase funding for enforcement and investigations into potential violations of laws and regulations.

6) Create a dedicated task force or agency to oversee the tech industry.

7) Establish clear penalties for companies that violate laws or regulations, including financial penalties and revoking of licences.

8) Work with other countries to develop coordinated approaches to regulating the tech industry.

9) Hold public hearings and consultations on proposed changes to laws and regulations.

10) Review existing laws and regulations regularly to ensure they are still effective and relevant.

Using AI as a Tool

AI is a tool. It is a tool used by humans. Like most tools it’s capable of good or ill. We need regulation that does not get in the way of good while preventing its use for harm. Regulation is not easy.

At AutogenAI we want to actively support informed, proportionate regulation of these new technologies to make sure that they genuinely work for the common good.