If you think of a garden (it’s spring after all!), then Europe is providing the fertilizer and the right conditions for growth, sees what blooms, and then prunes when necessary.
So when it comes to AI, it’s probably a fair assumption that we will see the first wide-scale regulations coming out of Europe — GDPR was just the first step in this journey. In fact, just last month the
European Commission announced its intention to take on AI ethics.
But the question is, will their reputation precede them, and eventually, will the growth of AI purposes be hindered here? Maybe, but that might also be a good thing when it comes to the extremely important and (until recently) under-addressed issues of AI interpretability and ethics.
China: Speed- and Control-Driven
In China, speed matters — a lot. Both in the sense of technology itself and in the arms race sense; that is, they are racing to be the first to X. On top of that, they are also working with a relatively free sense of purpose with AI technology — nothing seems to be off the table when it comes to what AI can do.
Yet the big question mark here is the elephant in the room, which is the one of political control. If we come back to the garden analogy, this one would be walled. China has ensured that the weather is perfect and that there is ample fertilizer for quick growth, and seeds are thriving. Better than thriving — they are overgrown and taking over. But with a lack of sharing (both from the outside in and the inside out), the impact of this overgrowth is unclear.
Some express concern that
“unchecked expansion” in China could have negative global consequences both domestically for citizens whose concerns about ethics are unheard. But what happens in the worst-case scenario if some of China’s AI bets pay off big time, and whether ethical or not, the rest of the world wants in?
Imagine, for example, that using a facial recognition database, extensive network of cameras, and image detection, China is able to drastically reduce crime. Would other countries be willing to forgo ethical concerns and follow suit?
United States: Intent- and Balance-Driven
The United States provides an interesting environment, which is the race-like encouragement of technological development plus an extremely litigious society that inherently limits purpose. I can’t work out how to fit this into the garden analogy, but maybe it would be as if the soil isn’t quite the right type to encourage unbridled growth for all types of plants, though certainly some thrive.
What’s interesting here is the OpenAI case, the idea that there are not just individuals but entire companies who want to step up and take a stand for the future of AI in a way that we haven’t seen (yet) elsewhere in the world.
But as is inevitable with massively competitive technological growth, a company that doesn’t have the same ethical priorities will soon come around and won’t be as noble or responsible. So the question here is, can (or will) regulations fill the gaps? The United States has not been quick to regulate in the past for fear of stunting growth, but what will it take for that to change?