Google CEO calls for a balanced approach to AI regulation

Sundar Pichai urges regulators not to impose blanket rules as differing sectors will require varying levels of control


As governments start to assess the need and degree of regulation over the use of artificial intelligence (AI), Google CEO Sundar Pichai has called for a “proportionate approach” when it comes to drafting the rules.

He also said that governments need to align their rules and agree on core values. The European Commission, which is due to publish its proposals any day now, is taking a tougher line on AI than the US as it looks to strengthen existing regulations and ensure AI sits within the strict European privacy and data rights. The US guidelines look at limiting authorities’ overreach.

The dilemma facing regulators is how to encourage innovation and entrepreneurialism by using AI while ensuring it is not misused.

Pichai agreed that there were real concerns about the potential negative consequences of AI. Areas of concern include using AI to manipulate video and audio clips and using facial recognition technology for illegal or immoral reasons.

Therefore, he agreed there was a need for regulation, but said those setting the controls need to be careful. “Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities. This is especially true in areas that are high risk and high value,” he said.

Lying behind this call for balance is an understanding that different industries will have differing needs when it comes to regulation. Medical devices and self-driving cars, he said, will require different sets of rules.

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