The U.S. joined an international panel about settling ethical guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The White House’s chief technology officer, Michael Kratsios, divulged it’s vital to establish shared democratic principles to counter China’s record of “twisting technology” in ways that threaten civil liberties.

“Chinese technology companies are attempting to shape international standards on facial recognition and surveillance at the United Nations,” said Kratsios.

The Trump administration had been backing out among leaders of the Group of Seven in setting up the Global Partnership on AI on shared principles of “human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.”

At first, the administration objected to the regulation approach as it may hinder U.S. innovation. However, after the past year’s negotiations and changes to the group’s scope led the U.S. to join.

“We worked very hard to make it clear that it would not be a standard-setting or policy-making body,” Kratsios said.

American tech firms play a crucial role in its historical advocacy for human rights, which is why U.S. involvement is essential, said Kay Mathiesen, an associate professor focused on computer ethics at Northeastern University in Boston.

“U.S. tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple are all concerned about what guidelines they should be following to use AI responsibly,” said Mathiesen.

“Given their global presence, the fact that the U.S. wasn’t involved does not mean that they would not end up having to follow any regulations developed by the rest of the G7,” she added.

The U.S. push to reassess AI-assisted surveillance tools developed by China also fits into the expanding trade war, where both countries are wrestling for technological dominance.


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