LONDON – Google’s chief executive on Monday called for a balanced approach to controlling artificial intelligence, telling a European audience that the technology brings benefits but also “negative consequences”.
Sundar Pichai’s remarks come at a time when lawmakers and governments are seriously considering the limitations of how artificial intelligence is used.
“I have no question that artificial intelligence needs to be controlled. The question is how to deal with it, “said Pichai, according to a transcript of his speech at a Brussels-based think tank.
He noted that governments have an important role to play and that as the European Union and the United States begin to develop their own approaches to control, the “international demarcation” of any final rule will be important. He did not make a specific offer.
Pichai was speaking on the day he was scheduled to meet with Margaret Vesteger, the EU’s strongest competition regulator. He is scheduled to meet separately with Microsoft President Brad Smith on Monday.
Vestager has hit the Silicon Valley giant in previous years with several billion dollars in fines for abusing its market dominance to stop competition. After being re-employed for a second term last fall with enhanced power over digital technology policy, Vestager has now set its sights on artificial intelligence and is making rules for its ethical use.
Pichai’s comments suggest that the company expects the EU to close a wide-ranging crackdown on technology. Vestager and the EU are among the more aggressive regulators of the major technology companies.
“While balancing social opportunities with potential losses, intelligent regulation must also take a proportional approach,” he said, adding that it could incorporate existing standards, such as Europe’s tougher general data protection regulations, starting from scratch.
While this promises great benefits, he raised concerns about the potential downside of artificial intelligence, citing its role in facial recognition technology as an example, which could be used to locate missing persons, but not for “evil reasons”.
In 2018, Google has promised not to use AI in applications that violate international law or violate human rights.
Pichai was also scheduled to meet on Monday with EU Commissioner France Timmerman, who is overseeing the European Green Deal, to plan for the bloc to fight climate change by 2050 by neutralizing the continent’s carbon through technology. He is scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week.
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Kelvin Chan, Associated Press