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How Nations Are Losing a Global Race to Tackle A.I.’s Harms

The New York Times [read free]- “Alarmed by the power of artificial intelligence, Europe, the United States and others are trying to respond — but the technology is evolving more rapidly than their policies. When European Union leaders introduced a 125-page draft law to regulate artificial intelligence in April 2021, they hailed it as a global model for handling the technology. E.U. lawmakers had gotten input from thousands of experts for three years about A.I., when the topic was not even on the table in other countries. The result was a “landmark” policy that was “future proof,” declared Margrethe Vestager, the head of digital policy for the 27-nation bloc. Then came ChatGPT. The eerily humanlike chatbot, which went viral last year by generating its own answers to prompts, blindsided E.U. policymakers. The type of A.I. that powered ChatGPT was not mentioned in the draft law and was not a major focus of discussions about the policy. Lawmakers and their aides peppered one another with calls and texts to address the gap, as tech executives warned that overly aggressive regulations could put Europe at an economic disadvantage. Even now, E.U. lawmakers are arguing over what to do, putting the law at risk. “We will always be lagging behind the speed of technology,” said Svenja Hahn, a member of the European Parliament who was involved in writing the A.I. law. Lawmakers and regulators in Brussels, in Washington and elsewhere are losing a battle to regulate A.I. and are racing to catch up, as concerns grow that the powerful technology will automate away jobs, turbocharge the spread of disinformation and eventually develop its own kind of intelligence. Nations have moved swiftly to tackle A.I.’s potential perils, but European officials have been caught off guard by the technology’s evolution, while U.S. lawmakers openly concede that they barely understand how it works.”

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