Last Wednesday, the US Congress held a closed forum on the problems of artificial intelligence, attended by more than 60 senators and heads of more than two dozen leading American technology companies. As it turned out, billionaires gathered in one place, all with personal capital of more than half a trillion dollars.
The initiator of the forum was the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer. The company’s executives invited included Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Meta CEO✴ Platforms Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates (Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt). The forum also included AFL-CIO Labor Federation President Liz Shuler, Senator Mike Rounds and others.
While civil rights groups and labor unions were also represented at the meeting, some experts worry that the event risks highlighting only the concerns of big companies over everyone else. Sarah Myers West, executive director of the nonprofit AI Now Institute, estimated the total net worth of businesspeople attending the forum at $550 billion and noted that the meeting was unlikely to reflect the views of the general public.
Elon Musk alone owns $242.1 billion; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates contributed another $128.6 billion to the mentioned amount and was Meta CEO✴ Platforms Mark Zuckerberg added $109.7 billion. NVIDIA co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang also has $40 billion and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has $26.6 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, AI has surged this year amid growing hype. Stocks of technology companies increased the wealth of the five companies on the list by a total of $222.5 billion. One of the biggest beneficiaries was NVIDIA, whose shares rose more than 200%.
Forum participants discussed AI regulation issues, particularly the need to create an independent agency to oversee certain aspects of AI use, he writes AP News. When commenting on the last forum, Musk told reporters that this meeting “could go down in history as very important for the future of civilization”noting that during the forum AI “double-edged sword”. “It is important for us to have a judge” Musk said, adding that the regulator “Will ensure businesses take actions that are safe and in the best interests of the public.”.
Each forum participant had three minutes to speak on a topic of their choice, after which the general discussion began. In their speeches, Musk and Schmidt asked questions about the existential risks associated with AI, and Zuckerberg spoke about closed and open source AI models. Gates talked about how to feed the hungry, and Krishna expressed his opposition to other companies’ proposals that require the introduction of licenses.
Pichai declined to give reporters details but generally supported the idea of government involvement. “I think it is important for the government to play a role in both innovation and putting the right protections in place and I am sure this has been a productive discussion.”– he said.
A day before the forum, Adobe, IBM, NVIDIA and five other companies announced Tuesday that they have signed President Joe Biden’s voluntary AI commitments aimed at reducing the risks associated with the use of AI, including the Watermarking AI-generated content.