AI Regulations Are Coming, Says Microsoft President
However, Microsoft's Brad Smith acknowledged that any temporary guardrails may become outdated in a short time.
Smith noted during the interview that many governments are setting the stage to implement regulations over generative AI technologies, and that he sees the U.S. following suit.
"I was in Japan just three weeks ago and they have a national AI strategy," said Smith. "The government has adopted it. And it's about participating in the development and use but also regulating this. The world is moving forward. Let's make sure that the United States at least keeps pace with the rest of the world."
Smith said that regulation does need come quickly to avoid the pitfall of social media, which Smith acknowledges has been somewhat of a "wild west" where actors like Russia can weaponized it to influence and subvert democracies. While he says that the laissez-faire approach to social media that the U.S. and other nations have taken should be viewed as a cautionary tale for gen AI, the situation is not one for one.
He points to the regulatory conversations already taking place early on in the tech's lifespan -- something he said that corporations and governments were late to the party on with regards to social media. "Let's embrace early on," said Smith. "We need rules, we need laws, we need responsibility, and we need it quickly."
When asked if he would support a six-month moratorium on the tech, like one championed by other tech leaders like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, Smith was tepid on the notion, saying that the generative AI landscape might look a lot different than it does today, and any temporary guardrails put in may be outdated in a short time. He also pointed to OpenAI, which Microsoft has heavily invested and integrated into its product line, not expecting a major model change in the next six months, making the temporary halt somewhat meaningless.
"Let's figure out how we can implement voluntary safety standards," said Smith. "There's so many things we can do to make this better. Let's put our energy there rather than spending our time debating something that I'm pretty skeptical will ever see happen."
Smith did give an example of a voluntary move corporations could make to help protect the public from disinformation. He believes it should be the responsibility of companies like Microsoft to alert and properly label content that is generated by AI to battle disinformation created by the rise of deepfakes.
Finally, speaking on the overall impact of generative AI in the workforce, Smith said that it has the power to change many industries -- but not as fast as some are predicting.
"I think we'll see it unfold over years, not months," said Smith. "But it will be years, not decades, although things will progress over decades as well. There will be some new jobs that will be created. There are jobs that exist today that didn't exist a year ago in this field. And there will be some jobs that are displaced."