Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai continues to dance around the issue of AI regulations. In a new interview with Financial Times, the head of the world's leading AI company struggled to communicate a concrete stance on the matter.
That isn't to say Pichai hasn't already done a lot of thinking on the matter. If anything, his non-committing comments prove the exact opposite. The face of Alphabet's flagship unit knows he's walking a thin line whenever he speaks about this subject.
On a conceptual level, the 47-year-old agreed some level of regulations is a neccessity. After all, the field of artificial intelligence is "too important" for regulators to ignore, he explained. As for what such interventions should entail in practice, Pichai's unsurprisingly hoping for a light regulatory touch.
Sure, the executive still points to Google's AI principles as evidence the firm's actively trying to contribute to the public discourse. But it warrants reminding those very same principles still allowed it to actively develop AI meant to kill people. Obviously, the situation's much more nuanced than that; Washington's geopolitical rivals are hardly concerned by ethics when it comes to military tech.
Yet it's high time for legislators to start drawing some lines. And, in an ideal world, Google would be nowhere near the drawing board when that finally happens. Then again, an ideal world wouldn't be shaped by lobbysts.
Can't have Google writing AI regulations
The California-based giant is well-aware that outright lobbying against high-profile regulations can only lead to a PR disaster. That's a natural belief for a company that essentially specializes in ethically questionable AI projects.
The reason Pichai's insight is so valuable should also, naturally, disqualify him from directly influencing future AI regulations in the U.S. After all, he leads a multi-billion corporation that already made an all-in bet on AI. A corporation answering to shareholders, mind you, so heavy-handed regulations are the last thing it wants.
Publicly saying otherwise would certainly spell a disaster for Google's stock. It's hence inconceivable Pichai would ever advocate a regulatory crackdown, regardless of personal beliefs.
Ultimately, it's difficult to predict how Washington will tackle AI regulations in the coming years. The Trump administration already said it favors a careful approach to the segment, but the current government may be voted out later this year. Then again, it's not like that would necessarily spell radical changes as Silicon Valley's rather cozy with most regulators.