AI Scrutiny Garners Steam as OpenAI CEO and IBM Executive Testifies Before Congress

The scrutiny of artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining steam in the US as experts drawn from IBM and New York University join OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman to testify in a Senate hearing. The experts are set to appear in the May 16 hearing identified to examine AI oversight and rules.

OpenAI Executive Set to Appear Before Congress 

Altman is scheduled to face Congress on Tuesday, May 16, in a session where the Senate would examine the AI regulation within the US. The session would feature the leading advocate for AI pause, Christina Montgomery, currently heading IBM’s privacy and trust department. The presence of Montgomery is critical, considering her membership within the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee. Also joining the executives is Professor Gary Marcus from New York University. 

The notice of the May 16 hearing is noncommittal on the day’s agenda. Nevertheless, the preliminary projection of the day examines artificial intelligence oversight. While the finer details are scarce, speculators are considering possible discussions on the safety and privacy of OpenAI. 

The hearing is the first for the OpenAI chief executive to participate in on-record testimony addressing Congress. However, Altman was recently featured in the White House roundtable led by Vice President Hamala Harris. The meeting attracted Microsoft, Anthropic and Alphabet chief executives. 

Lead AI Critic Marcus Facing the Congress Next Week

AI Trading Robot

The inclusion of NYU’s Marcus is unsurprising given his prominent role in the AI sphere by offering unwavering support for the community-driven six-month pause to developing AI. The petition for AI pause was featured in the open letter drafted on March 22 by the Future of Life Institute (FOLI). At press time, the letter has garnered over 27500 signatures. 

The letter urges all artificial intelligence labs to halt training and developing AI systems with superior capabilities for six months. 

The participation of Montgomery and Altman of Montgomery in the May 16 testimony is a notable event, given that both are opposers of the AI pause sought by the Elon Musk-led faction of tech executives.

Montgomery Downplays Letter Demanding Pause of AI Development

Montgomery’s sentiments downplay the necessity for pausing AI development. She authored the post in support of the uninterrupted release. Instead, she urges the AI developers to consider prioritizing the integration of ethics in training and running the AI. Its achievement would involve deploying a precise approach to AI regulation.  

Montgomery warns that upholding a blanket pause on training and developing AI is retrogressive. She laments that satisfying the petition sought by the FOLI letter would amount to de-prioritizing investment. Pausing AI development would hamper efforts to integrate ethics into AI. Such would translate to causing additional harm and irreplaceable setbacks.  

A subsequent blog post that Montgomery penned in part lobbies for risk-based regulation. The stance adopted by the privacy and trust executive reveals that IBM currently does not offer public-facing generative versions of AI. 

In his capacity as the chief executive of OpenAI, Altman shares in the call for ethical AI development. His support for ethical AI is paramount, considering that his firm is behind ChatGPT, arguably the leading public-facing AI in popularity.  

Integrate Ethical in Future AI Models 

Altman responded in an interview conducted by Lex Fridman, admitted that safe and ethical AI development is achievable. However, he informed the audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology event that formulating a participative platform is beneficial when releasing the systems for public utilization. 

Professor Marcus is emerging as leading the outlier faction, particularly for his vocal support of the pause since FOLI initiated the open letter. While Marcus rejected his input in drafting the letter petitioning for the pause of AI, he earlier penned a blog post aligned with the objective. In particular, he penned the blog post inquiring whether it was time to halt the AI development a month before the pause letter publishing. 

The community is anticipating the upcoming hearing on May 16 to feature an inquisitive forum moderated by questions posted by the Congress members. Nevertheless, the discussion likely causes disruptive ramifications relative to the experts that the audience will believe.

The possibility of Congress advocating for a restrictive approach against AI would hamper innovation. Montgomery is concerned that a heavy hand would cause a chilling effect and still fail to address the safety concerns. 

Montgomery fears that such development would adversely affect other stakeholders utilizing GPT technology to ease operations. Besides bots services, crypto exchanges utilize the chatbot when serving clients, conducting trades and analyzing the market. 

Elon Musk and Marcus lament that the continued delay in regulating AI could result in an existential crisis threatening humankind. Consequently, integrating common-sense policy is necessary for AI oversight.

Editorial credit: Giulio Benzin /

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