An artificial intelligence committee spearheaded by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, has urged the US authorities to work upon their AI skills and give a tough competition to China. This request also includes pursuing AI-enabled weapons, that is rumored of being developed in the latter and to date have been shunned by Google on ethical grounds.
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence consists of a 15-member panel, that includes Schmidt and other executives from Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon. The final report of observations was shared with the authorities on 1 March 2021 (Monday). The primary portion suggested that winning in AI requires more money, talent, and super-strong leadership.
The following are some of the key highlights of the report:
- Machines that can perceive, decide, go with accuracy, and act quicker than humans are going to be deployed for military purposes and may not have the involvement of the U.S. and other democracies.
- It warns against unchecked use of such weapons and in parallel shows concern against the global plan under pipeline for such autonomous pieces of equipment.
- Wise restraints need to be put up on the weapons by facial recognition, and the same can be extended to mass surveillance for effective use of the tools. Andrew Moore, commissioner, and head of Google Cloud AI extends this thought by saying that the core Western values must stay embedded within the autonomous, but innovation needs to be done in areas that have not been thought upon.
However, there has been some criticism from members of top giant companies that hold big government contracts and it lies on the federal rules governing the same. To this, justification states that the entire effort is a White-House-led strategy for streamlining the process of AI in the defense field and bridge the gap of 1-2 years behind China. The further process would get clarified, once Biden-administration appoints its next director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Though a similar line of thoughts was also proposed by Michael Kratsios (US Chief Technology Officer under the Trump administration), there have been differences between both of the governments in building up the AI talent. Initially, the Trump government had formed the committee in 2018 and appointed 12 out of 15 commissioners, whereas the rest were picked by Defense and Commerce secretaries. Later, Google’s backing out of Project Maven (a concept of using AI-based computer vision to analyze drone footage in conflicted areas) created clashes within the committee and took the path of the company staying away from the concept of AI-enabled weapons.
The commission consists of representatives from the big software giants Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon. They have competed against each other for gaining federal cloud computing contracts and aided in defining the section of government partnerships with the private sector.
The inclusion of the experts from these companies has provided deeper insights on moving ahead. But, work needs to be carried for including the aspects of civil liberties and how human rights get affected by the impending regularization of AI in defense.