Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution.
John Chiala | CNBC
Policymakers in Washington are now engaged in a wide range of discussions about how to prevent AI technologies from spiraling out of control. But while focusing on the various threats, we lose sight of how the AI economy should be structured—how humanity can best be prepared to take advantage of this new frontier. In other words, we are not paying enough attention to the question of which companies should be allowed to exploit the potential of AI.
While AI will certainly become more expensive as specific industries find ways to use these new tools in their specific ways, the costs of building the language models that power today's generative AI are so prohibitive that most innovation is not driven. From the bottom up with small startups instead of big tech. This suggests a departure from conventional patterns of creative discovery, if only because innovation is largely driven by disruptive new companies challenging incumbents. Rather than the old order changing, in this case there is a real possibility that the disruption will help the big one grow, while the challengers struggle to gain any real traction.
Perhaps more worryingly, too much focus on public fears about artificial intelligence may prevent policymakers from undermining what many of us call “open source” AI—replacing the collaborative model that has allowed a global community of innovators to operate as iterative, So quickly to build to improve the basic technology. This should concern everyone because, while we should not minimize the serious risks inherent in the possibility of artificial intelligence falling into the wrong hands, we should recognize that failure to explore this frontier quickly undermines its potential to improve health and education. , and many other aspects of our lives in the near and medium term.
Given the downside risks, many have predictably called for more government-led innovation, with bureaucrats granting AI licenses to a select group of companies – in most cases, our existing tech giants. To do so would be to abandon the formula that led to America's rise in favor of the top-down approach to industrial policy that China prefers. On this side of the Pacific, we hold to the idea that the best ideas cannot be orchestrated—they emerge from the near-random collision of ideas. At its most effective, Washington works not to control fast-growing industries, but to level the playing field so that the best innovations can scale.
If this happened in the field of artificial intelligence, new startups would already be popping up across the country. But a recent study by the Brookings Institution found that nearly 60 percent of AI jobs are currently based in Silicon Valley. This is disturbing. Policy makers must ensure that entrepreneurs across the country have the opportunity to participate in the race to use this new technology. This means ensuring that individuals with unique expertise who live outside of Silicon Valley have the opportunity to join the AI ecosystem. In short, AI should not be a vehicle used to ensure the prolongation of the dominance of Silicon Valley-based Big Tech.
America hasn't always been committed to bottom-up innovation—and the innovation economy has suffered as a result. The iterative experiment that eventually created the commercial Internet was delayed until the 1990s, not because the technology wasn't ready—the basic infrastructure was invented in the 1960s. Rather, the problem was that AT&T convinced policymakers that it was too dangerous to allow outside players access to a closed-access system. The power of the Internet was only unleashed in the 1980s, when the government used antitrust to break up Ma Bell, then built a regulatory structure that forced phone companies to open their networks to competitors—allowing companies like mine, America Online, to get started.
These Internet lessons must be applied to this new frontier. In order to maximize the benefits of AI while minimizing the risks, governments should use guardrails, but not in the form of licenses that allow only a few players to compete. Rather, congressional legislation should be biased toward the diffusion of innovation across the country. This includes the continued development of open source AI platforms, as well as taking steps to ensure that big tech AI platforms receive the same open access provisions that were applied to phone companies nearly half a century ago when the Internet existed. born
Now, it's critical that Washington find ground rules that allow entrepreneurs to participate in the development of artificial intelligence and ensure that the current generation of tech leaders can't follow them. At the very least, Washington should commit to ensuring that medical researchers, growing ag-tech firms in the Carolinas and Arkansas, and clean-energy startups in the Mountain West can harness the power of artificial intelligence, and then if their ideas win. A marketplace of ideas that their creators can benefit from. This new technology should not be a wedge that further separates the tech world from the rest of America. It must be the bridge that connects the two.
Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, is chairman and CEO of Revolution, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm, and author of The Rise of the Leftovers: How Entrepreneurs in Amazing Places are Building the New American Dream. .” He will participate in Sen. Schumer's forum on artificial intelligence on October 25.