FTC Chair Warns Of Dangers Posed By AI, Calls For Timely Regulation

Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan this week warned of potential dangers posed by the growing adoption of artificial intelligence -- including that it could "turbocharge" fraud and facilitate discrimination against individuals, as well as unfair competitive behavior.

Khan said timely regulation is needed, arguing in a New York Times op-ed that lack of adequate tech policies and enforcement in the past resulted in a concentration of power among a few companies and business models that came "at extraordinary cost to our privacy and security."

Artificial intelligence “may not be ready to replace professional writers, but it can already do a vastly better job of crafting a seemingly authentic message than your average con artist,” she wrote, adding that fraudsters are already using the technology to create phishing emails.

Khan also noted that artificial intelligence tools are trained on data that may itself contain biases, which could result in tools that unfairly discriminate.

Her commentary comes as interest in artificial intelligence is mounting, as are calls for its regulation.

In March, the business organization Chamber of Commerce called for “appropriate and reasonable protections” to prevent artificial intelligence from harming privacy, or promoting bias.

Others have called for a tougher approach. Last month, for instance, the advocacy group Center for AI and Digital Policy urged the FTC to halt further commercial releases of Open AI's large language model software GPT-4, calling it “biased, deceptive, and a risk to privacy and public safety.”

On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris and other White House officials met with executives from Google, Microsoft, Open AI and other companies currently developing artificial intelligence -- apparently in hopes of urging them to proceed with caution.

“We aim to have a frank discussion of the risks we each see in current and near-term A.I. development, actions to mitigate those risks and other ways we can work together to ensure the American people benefit from advances in A.I. while being protected from its harms,” Arati Prabhakar, the director of the White House office of science and technology policy, told the companies in the invitation, according to The New York Times.

Khan didn't just address artificial intelligence in her op-ed. She also restated concerns that 20-year-old companies like Google and Facebook threaten privacy.

“The last time we found ourselves facing such widespread social change wrought by technology was the onset of the Web 2.0 era in the mid-2000s,” she wrote.

Companies like Facebook and Google “revolutionized communications,” she added, but their services “came at a steep cost” to privacy and security."

“What we initially conceived of as free services were monetized through extensive surveillance of the people and businesses that used them," Khan wrote. "The result has been an online economy where access to increasingly essential services is conditioned on the widespread hoarding and sale of our personal data."

2 comments about "FTC Chair Warns Of Dangers Posed By AI, Calls For Timely Regulation".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, May 5, 2023 at 1:13 p.m.

    By that logic, we should also ban spelling and grammar checkers because they make it easier for con artists to compose error-free phishing emails.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, May 19, 2023 at 3:30 a.m.

    How very an odd comparison.

    Grammar checkers can provide unequivocally correct grammar and spelling, and it is drawing a VERY LONG bow that AI will provide unequivocally correct facts, reports, opinions etc.   The sunami of incorrect AI outputs mocks that comparison.

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