US Science Adviser Arati Prabhakar Guides Safeguarding of AI Technology with Cooperation from Tech Giants
US President Joe Biden seeks guidance from his science adviser, Arati Prabhakar, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, on matters related to artificial intelligence (AI). Prabhakar, an engineer and applied physicist of Indian origin, is playing a crucial role in shaping the US approach to protecting AI technology, with cooperation from major American tech firms like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Meta.
Prabhakar’s diverse career background, which includes leading the Defense Department’s advanced technology research arm and working as a former Silicon Valley executive and venture capitalist, gives her a unique perspective on the issue. She recently spoke with The Associated Press about her role and views on AI technology, particularly in relation to security and ethics.
When questioned about President Biden’s interest in AI, Prabhakar spoke highly of their conversations, emphasizing Biden’s focus on understanding the technology and its implications. She commended his eagerness to take action and explore the consequences of AI.
The topic of explainability in AI models was also discussed, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasizing its importance. Prabhakar admitted that deep-learning, machine-learning systems are inherently opaque and considered a technical challenge. However, she drew a parallel to pharmaceuticals, highlighting that even though we can’t predict exactly how a medicine will interact with our bodies, we have established processes to ensure safety and effectiveness. Prabhakar believes that a similar journey can be undertaken for AI, where although perfection may not be achievable, sufficient measures can be implemented to harness the value of AI systems.
Prabhakar also expressed concerns about certain AI applications, such as chatbots being coerced to give instructions on building weapons and the issue of biases in systems trained on human data. She cited wrongful arrests of Black people resulting from biased facial recognition systems as a distressing example. Privacy concerns were also mentioned, with Prabhakar highlighting the potential threats when individuals’ data is aggregated.
In an effort to promote AI safety standards, the White House encouraged companies to voluntarily commit to these standards. Prabhakar acknowledged the importance of American tech companies in driving AI technology and expressed gratitude for their cooperation. However, she also noted that market realities may limit the extent to which individual companies can go. Prabhakar hopes that more companies will join in the voluntary commitments, but emphasized that government involvement is crucial, both in the executive and legislative branches.
Although Prabhakar did not provide a specific timeline for future actions, she emphasized the urgency of the issue, stating that the president himself has made it clear that AI is a pressing matter. Various measures are being considered, including enforceable accountability measures for AI developers.
In conclusion, Arati Prabhakar, as the US Science Adviser, is playing a vital role in guiding the US approach to safeguarding AI technology. With cooperation from major tech companies, the US government aims to address concerns about ethics, biases, and privacy in AI systems. However, it is evident that more needs to be done, and both voluntary commitments from companies and government actions are necessary to ensure the responsible development and use of AI technology.