EU legislators call for ‘safe’ AI as Google’s CEO cautions on rapid development

A dozen European Union (EU) politicians have signed a letter calling for the “safe” development of artificial intelligence (AI) as Google's CEO cautioned against releasing powerful AI tech before society has had a chance to adapt.

An April 16 open letter shared on Twitter by EU Parliament member, Dragoș Tudorache, called for a collaborative effort and a universal set of rules around the development of AI.

Tudorache, along with 11 other EU politicians named in the letter, asked the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and United States President Joe Biden to convene a summit on AI and to agree on a set of governing principles for the development, control and deployment of the tech.

"Recent advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) have demonstrated that the speed of technological progress is faster and more unpredictable than policymakers around the world have anticipated," the letter reads.

"We are moving very fast."

The letter further asks the principals of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC), a forum for the U.S. and EU to coordinate approaches to economic and technology issues, to agree on a preliminary agenda for the proposed AI summit and for companies and countries worldwide to "strive for an ever-increasing sense of responsibility" while developing AI.

"Our message to industry, researchers, and decision-makers, in Europe and worldwide, is that the development of very powerful artificial intelligence demonstrates the need for attention and careful consideration. Together, we can steer history in the right direction," the letter said.

Google CEO Pichai Sundararajan, better known as Sundar Pichai, also expressed caution around the rapid development of AI in an April 16 interview on CBS' 60 Minutes saying that society might need time to adapt to the new tech.

"You don't want to put a technology out like this when it's very, very powerful because it gives society no time to adapt. I think that's one reasonable perspective," he said.

"The pace at which we can think and adapt as social institutions compared to the pace at which the technology is evolving, there seems to be a mismatch," he added.

However, Pichai also noted that while there are causes for concern, he does feel "optimistic" because of the number of people worrying about the implications of AI so early in its life cycle compared to other technical advancements in the past.

"I think there are responsible people there trying to figure out how to approach this technology and so are we," he said.

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The European Union is already looking at AI with its Artificial Intelligence Act, meanwhile, the European Data Protection Board has also created a task force for the generative AI chatbot ChatGPT.

The letter from the EU politicians echoes the same concerns put forward by more than 2,600 tech leaders and researchers who called for a temporary pause on further AI development, fearing "profound risks to society and humanity."

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and other AI CEOs, CTOs and researchers were among the other signatories of the letter, which was published by the United States think tank Future of Life Institute (FOLI) on March 22.

While the EU politicians agree with the "core message" of the FOLI letter, and share "some of the concerns," they have come out in disagreement with "some of its more alarmist statements."

Musk has continued to highlight the risk he believes AI could pose in an April 16 interview with Fox News, saying that just like any other technology, AI has the potential to be misused if it is developed with ill intentions.

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