The man who spearheads Google - a company which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, developing artificial intelligence systems - has joined calls for AI regulation, although perhaps unsurprisingly has demanded "a sensible approach".
Writing in the Financial Times, Sundar Pichai - who also heads Google’s parent company Alphabet - said that individual areas of AI require tailored rules.
He writes: “There is no question in my mind that AI needs to be regulated. It is too important not to. The only question is how to approach it.”
Pichai notes that for some products like self-driving cars, “appropriate new rules” should be introduced. But in other areas, like healthcare, existing frameworks can be extended to cover AI-assisted products.
“Companies such as ours cannot just build promising new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used. It is equally incumbent on us to make sure that technology is harnessed for good and available to everyone.”
Pichai’s intervention comes as regulators across the world are finally starting to act on growing concerns around the use of AI.
Late last year, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office joined with the Alan Turing Institute to launch a consultation on draft guidance the two organisations have drawn up for those developing AI decision-making systems.
At the time, ICO executive director for technology policy and innovation Simon McDougall said: “What do we really understand about how decisions are made about us using artificial intelligence? The potential for AI is huge, but its implementation is often complex, which makes it difficult for people to understand how it works. And when people don’t understand a technology, it can lead to doubt, uncertainty and mistrust.”
The World Economic Forum has also confirmed its intention to develop global rules for AI and to create an AI Council that will aim to find common ground on policy between nations on the potential of AI and other emerging technologies.
Meanwhile, the EU has published seven guidelines for the development and implementation of AI ethics as part of its AI strategy, which is targeting investment of €20 billion (£17 billion) in the technology annually over the next decade.