June 21, 2024

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AI is giving Big Tech ‘inordinate’ power, tech execs say

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Tech execs have voiced concern that the development of artificial intelligence is concentrated in the hands of too few companies, potentially giving them excessive control over the rapidly evolving technology.

An explosion of interest in AI was sparked by OpenAI’s ChatGPT late last year thanks to the novel way in which the chatbot can answer user prompts.

Its popularity contributed to the start of what many in the tech industry have called an AI arms race, as tech giants including Microsoft and Google seek to develop and launch their own artificial intelligence models. These require huge amounts of computing power as they are trained on massive amounts of data.

“Right now, there are only a handful of companies with the resources needed to create these large-scale AI models and deploy them at scale. And we need to recognize that this is giving them inordinate power over our lives and institutions,” Meredith Whittaker, president of encrypted messaging app Signal, told CNBC in an interview last week.

“We should really be concerned about, again, a handful of corporations driven by profit and shareholder returns making such socially consequential decisions.”

Whittaker previously spent 13 years at Google but became disillusioned in 2017 when she found out the search giant was working on a controversial contract with the Department of Defense known as Project Maven. Whittaker grew concerned Google’s AI could potentially be used for drone warfare and helped organize a walkout at the company that involved thousands of employees.

“AI, as we understand it today, is fundamentally a technology that is derivative of centralized corporate power and control,” Whittaker said.

“It is built on the concentrated resources that accrued to a handful of large tech corporations, largely based in the U.S. and China via the surveillance advertising business model, which gave them powerful computational infrastructure and huge amounts of data; large markets from which to pull that data; and the…

2023-11-22 01:35:00

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