Microsoft appeals for a new US agency to regulate AI

Vice chair and president Brad Smith also equated AI's importance to that of the printing press.

POOL New / reuters

Microsoft has called for the US federal government to create a new agency specifically focused on regulating AI, Bloomberg reports. At a speech in Washington, DC attended by some members of Congress and non-governmental organizations, Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith remarked that "the rule of law and a commitment to democracy has kept technology in its proper place" and should do so again with AI. Another part of Microsoft's "blueprint" for regulating AI involves mandating redundant AI circuit breakers, a fail-safe that would allow algorithms to be shut down quickly.

Smith also strongly suggested that President Biden create and sign an executive order necessitating that the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) risk management framework be followed by any federal agencies engaging with AI tools. He added that Microsoft would also adhere to the NIST's guidelines and publish a yearly AI report for transparency.

Microsoft's calls for regulation follow similar remarks from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before Congress that a "new entity" is needed to regulate AI and recommended "independent audits" of models. Yet, Altman previously suggested pulling OpenAI from the European Union if the company doesn't agree with new policies.

Kent Walker, CEO president of global affairs for Google and Alphabet, recently released a statement calling for "broad-based efforts — across government, companies, universities, and more — to help translate technological breakthroughs into widespread benefits, while mitigating risks." Concerns about AI have also led to people walking away from its development. Former Google VP and engineering fellow Geoffrey Hinton, commonly referred to as "The Godfather of AI," notably resigned in April to openly warn about AI's risks.

Alongside voicing his concerns, Smith's hour-long speech also served as an opportunity for him to laud recent AI advancements. He compared its significance to that of the printing press or electricity. In an accompanying blog post that echoed his speech, Smith went so far as to say, "AI offers perhaps even more potential for the good of humanity than any invention that has preceded it."