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    Silicon Valley AI Startups Slam California AI Safety Bill

    A group of 140 Silicon Valley AI startups, alongside venture capitalist giant Y Combinator has signed a letter criticising California’s recently passed AI Safety Bill, reported Politico on 21 June. The bill, which prohibits the use of AI in the development of weapons, is allegedly harming the state’s burgeoning tech and AI industry and making it difficult for California to retain its AI talent. “The bill could inadvertently threaten the vibrancy of California’s technology economy and undermine competition,” said the letter.

    What Are The Concerns?

    The letter raises the following concerns with the bill:

    • Liability and regulation that is unusual in its burdens: The responsibility for the misuse of LLMs shouldn’t fall on the developers. This could stifle innovation and create unreasonable liability standards, potentially criminalising failure to anticipate misuse.
    • The arbitrary threshold for regulation: Using 10^26 FLOPs as a threshold is problematic and may not accurately reflect future AI capabilities. It could incentivize companies to leave California and create unnecessary complexity.
    • The Kill Switch requirement is possibly a backdoor open-source AI ban: This could effectively ban open-source AI development, which is important for fostering competition and innovation, and hinder collaborative and transparent development.
    • Vague language could be expanded or reinterpreted later to kill Californian tech: The bill’s wording is unclear and could lead to potential wrongful interpretation to apply to a wide range of existing software like the Google search algorithm, leading to unintended consequences for the tech industry and legal uncertainty.

    As an alternative, the writers suggested requiring open-source licences to remain open in perpetuity and encouraging open publishing of AI research. “Such legislation would not only protect the collaborative and transparent nature of open source development but also promote innovation and fair competition by preventing proprietary capture of open source technologies,” they stated.

    Earlier in May, a group of startup founders called AGI House criticised the bill. According to them, it violated American free speech laws, citing previous legal precedents that classified computer code as free speech and argued the same for neural network weights.

    What Does the Act Say?

    Passed by the California Senate last month, “The Safe and Secure Innovation for Frontier Artificial Intelligence Models Act” applies to developers of AI models with computing power greater than 1026 floating-point operations that cost over $100 million to train. It mandates safety precautions including pre-deployment testing, safeguards against misuse, and post-deployment monitoring. Developers must implement a rapid shutdown capability and report safety incidents promptly. The regulations prohibit the development of models with “hazardous capabilities” without authorization, which can aid in the creation of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons. 

    AI companies offering their products for military applications is a major concern. In January this year, OpenAI updated its usage policies to no longer include an out-and-out prohibition on using its AI models for military and warfare purposes. Reports suggested that in May Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, provided United States intelligence agencies with a generative AI model for intelligence analysis. Further, just last week, OpenAI welcomed Paul Nakasone, former head of the National Security Agency (NSA), to the company’s Board of Directors as part of the Safety and Security Committee.

    Note: The headline and the last paragraph were edited for clarity based on editorial inputs on 24/06/2024 at 6:02 pm.

    Also Read:

    The post Silicon Valley AI Startups Slam California AI Safety Bill appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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