#Privacy: Google boss praises “foundation” of GDPR, insisting how AI needs to be regulated

Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, has spoken out over the need for AI to be regulated, underlining how AI-powered technologies such as deepfake and facial recognition must be controlled to avoid potentially dangerous consequences.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Pichai described the benefits of AI, before explaining how developers must heed lessons of the past.

“An AI model can help doctors spot breast cancer in mammograms with greater accuracy; we are using AI to make immediate…Yet history is full of examples of how technology’s virtues aren’t guaranteed. Internal combustion engines allowed people to travel beyond their own areas but also caused more accidents,” Pichai said.

“These lessons teach us that we need to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong. There are real concerns about the potential negative consequences of AI, from deepfakes to nefarious uses of facial recognition,” he continued.

Pichai explained how the technology needs to tentatively regulated with new appropriate rules, outlining how his company has been nurturing a responsible mindset alongside AI development.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to. The only question is how to approach it. That’s why in 2018, Google published our own AI principles to help guide ethical development and use of the technology,” Mr Pichai said, underlining how big innovators must take on responsibility instead of simply sending new technologies out into global markets to be freely used.

Mr Pichai gave praise to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), describing it as a “strong foundation” for regulatory frameworks that uphold “safety, explainability, fairness and accountability”, to make sure that tools are developed in the right ways.

A “proportionate approach” which balances social opportunity with potential dangers, is what we need, Mr Pichai said, in order to achieve regulation that provides “broad guidance while allowing for tailored implementation in different sectors.”

But “international alignment” of future regulation will be of fundamental importance if global standards are to work, Mr Pichai added, before highlighting a current cross-continental disconnect; while Washington works to avoid regulatory “overreach”, the EU is considering a ban on AI-powered facial recognition technology (FRT) for five years.

Caught in the middle, big tech firms such as Google may have to work and spend hard in order to reconcile the two regulatory domains.

“AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so. By ensuring it is developed responsibly in a way that benefits everyone, we can inspire future generations to believe in the power of technology as much as I do,” Mr Pichai continued.

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