Blinken said Western partners felt the “fierce urgency” to act following the emergence of AI – Copyright AFP Jade GAO
The European Union and United States said Wednesday they expect to draft a voluntary code of conduct on artificial intelligence “within weeks” with the hope that fellow democracies will sign on.
After talks with EU officials in Sweden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Western partners felt the “fierce urgency” to act following the emergence of the technology, in which China has been a growing force.
The voluntary code “would be open to all like-minded countries,” Blinken told reporters.
“There’s almost always a gap when new technologies emerge,” Blinken said, with “the time it takes for governments and institutions to figure out how to legislate or regulate.”
European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager added that a draft would be put forward “within weeks.”
“We think it’s really important that citizens can see that democracies can deliver,” she said.
She voiced hope “to do that in the broadest possible circle — with our friends in Canada, in the UK, in Japan, in India, bringing as many onboard as possible.”
Sam Altman, whose firm OpenAI created the popular AI-driven ChatGPT bot, took part in the talks of the Trade and Technology Council between the EU and the United States, this year hosted in the northern Swedish city of Lulea.
The forum was set up in 2021 to ease trade friction after the turbulent presidency of Donald Trump but has since set its sights largely on artificial intelligence.
In a joint statement, the two sides called AI a “transformative technology with great promise for our people, offering opportunities to increase prosperity and equity.”
“But in order to seize the opportunities it presents, we must mitigate its risks,” it said.
“The European Union and the United States reaffirm their commitment to a risk-based approach to AI to advance trustworthy and responsible AI technologies.”
It said that experts from the two sides would work on “cooperation on AI standards and tools for trustworthy AI and risk management.”
The EU has been moving forward on the world’s first regulations on AI which would ban biometric surveillance and ensure human control, although the rules would not enter into force before 2025 at the earliest.
China has also discussed regulations but Western powers fear that Beijing, with its growing prowess in the field and willingness to export to fellow authoritarian countries, could set global standards without Western unity.
The United States has made no serious effort to regulate AI despite rising calls, including by some in the tech industry.
Technology leaders, including Altman, in a joint statement Tuesday warned that AI put the world at risk without regulation.
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” they wrote.
ChatGPT burst into the spotlight late last year as it demonstrated an ability to generate essays, poems and conversations through minimal input.