On October 30, 2023, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.” I read it. Please click on the link and at least skim it.
The very purpose of the act is to “advance and govern the development and use of AI.” This raises fundamental questions about the purpose of the government, not in general but in the United States. The way the president outlines the administration’s role follows the European tradition rooted in the era of Enlightenment and still practiced in continental Europe; France is a good example.
The Enlightenment’s concept was about wise rulers governing their subjects. The first Americans went further; they wanted to be free to pursue happiness. The government should not be telling them what happiness is. They did not want the politicians to “advance and govern the development and use of” whatever adventures they found worth pursuing.
The first Americans did not expect whatever they invented to be safe and secure. They knew that life was a very hazardous venture and that there was no reward without taking a risk. The government should protect them from villains.
They would disagree with President Biden, who justifies his executive order by claiming that “the Federal Government should lead the way to global societal, economic, and technological progress.” In their view, the government should follow the progress because the strength of the United States is not in what the government does but what Americans do on their own.
Can AI be dangerous?
I am old enough to remember similar warnings about the upcoming massive computerization and implementation of new electronics half a century ago. Many things changed; the world did not collapse. Despite all the complaining, we do better.
One can look back to prehistoric times when the first people tamed horses. In the approach presented by President Biden, it was a terrible invention because a bad character could rush to a remote place, rob the locals, and run away unpunished. Discovering iron was equally bad because, at first, it was used to make swords.