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Midjourney

How the Department of Homeland Security’s WMD office sees the AI threat

The US Department of Homeland Security is preparing for the worst possible outcomes from the rapid progression of artificial intelligence technology technology. What if powerful AI models are used to help foreign adversaries or terror groups build chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons?

The department’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office, led by Assistant Secretary Mary Ellen Callahan, issued a report to President Joe Biden that was released to the public in June, with recommendations about how to rein in the worst threats from AI. Among other things, the report recommends building consensus across agencies, developing safe harbor measures to incentivize reporting vulnerabilities to the government without fear of prosecution, and developing new guidelines for handling sensitive scientific data.

We spoke to Callahan about the report, how concerned she actually is, and how her office is using AI to further its own goals while trying to outline the risks of the technology.

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Ilya Sutskever, co-Founder and Chief Scientist of OpenAI speaks during a talk at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel June 5, 2023.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

What is “safe” superintelligence?

OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever has announced a new startup called Safe Superintelligence. You might remember Sutskever as one of the board members who unsuccessfully tried to oust Sam Altman last November. He has since apologized and hung around OpenAI before departing in May.

Little is known about the new company — including how it’s funded — but its name has inspired debate about what’s involved in building a safe superintelligent AI system. “By safe, we mean safe like nuclear safety as opposed to safe as in ‘trust and safety,’” Sutskever disclosed. (‘Trust and safety’ is typically what internet companies call their content moderation teams.)

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Midjourney

Avoiding extinction: A Q&A with Gladstone AI’s Jeremie Harris

In November 2022, the US Department of State commissioned a comprehensive report on the risks of artificial intelligence. The government turned to Gladstone AI, a four-person firm founded the year before to write such reports and brief government officials on matters concerning AI safety.

Gladstone AI interviewed more than 200 people working in and around AI about what risks keep them up at night. Their report, titled “Defense in Depth: An Action Plan to Increase the Safety and Security of Advanced AI,” released to the public on March 11.

The short version? It’s pretty dire: “The recent explosion of progress in advanced artificial intelligence has brought great opportunities, but it is also creating entirely new categories of weapons of mass destruction-like and WMD-enabling catastrophic risks.” Next to the words “catastrophic risks” is a particularly worrying footnote: “By catastrophic risks, we mean risks of catastrophic events up to and including events that would lead to human extinction.”

With all that in mind, GZERO spoke to Jeremie Harris, co-founder and CEO of Gladstone AI, about how this report came to be and how we should rewire our thinking about the risks posed by AI.

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President Joe Biden walks across the stage to sign an executive order about artificial intelligence at the White House on Oct. 30, 2023.

REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Biden preaches AI safety

The Biden administration has created a new body to tackle the threats of AI: the US AI Safety Institute Consortium. The group of 200 AI “stakeholders” led by the Commerce Department and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is tasked with the “development and deployment of safe and trustworthy artificial intelligence.” The group will advise on many of the priorities of Biden’s October 2023 executive order on AI, on matters including “red-teaming, capability evaluations, risk management, safety and security, and watermarking synthetic content.”
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Grown-up AI conversations are finally happening, says expert Azeem Azhar
Nuanced AI conversations a major progress, says expert Azeem Azhar | GZERO World

Grown-up AI conversations are finally happening, says expert Azeem Azhar

Tech expert Azeem Azhar is optimistic the conversation around generative artificial intelligence has shifted from existential risk to practical applications at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Artificial intelligence dominated the conversation at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, but what is the business world getting right vs. wrong about how it will affect our lives? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer sat down with AI expert and writer Azeem Azhar for his take on how conversations around the rapidly developing technology have changed in the last year. Unlike previous flash-in-the-pan technologies like crypto and blockchain, Azhar notes, AI is just getting started, and almost every CEO he spoke with has integrated it into their business in some way.
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One big thing missing from the AI conversation | Zeynep Tufekci
One big thing missing from the AI conversation | Zeynep Tufekci | GZERO World

One big thing missing from the AI conversation | Zeynep Tufekci

When deployed cheaply and at scale, artificial intelligence will be able to infer things about people, places, and entire nations, which humans alone never could. This is both good and potentially very, very bad.

If you were to think of some of the most overlooked stories of 2023, artificial intelligence would probably not make your list. OpenAI's ChatGPT has changed how we think about AI, and you've undoubtedly read plenty of quick takes about how AI will save or destroy the planet. But according to Princeton sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, there is a super important implication of AI that not enough people are talking about.

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New AI toys spark privacy concerns for kids
Innovative AI toys spark privacy concerns for kids | GZERO AI

New AI toys spark privacy concerns for kids

Taylor Owen, professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University and director of its Centre for Media, Technology & Democracy, looks at a new phenomenon in the AI industry: interactive toys powered by AI. However, its interactivity function comes with a host of privacy concerns. According to Owen, it doesn't end there.

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The OpenAI-Sam Altman drama: Why should you care?
The OpenAI-Sam Altman drama: Why should you care? | GZERO AI | GZERO Media

The OpenAI-Sam Altman drama: Why should you care?

Taylor Owen, professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University and director of its Centre for Media, Technology & Democracy, co-hosts GZERO AI, our new weekly video series intended to help you keep up and make sense of the latest news on the AI revolution. In this episode of the series, Taylor Owen takes a look at the OpenAI-Sam Altman drama.

Hi, I'm Taylor Owen. This is GZERO AI. So if you're watching this video, then like me, you're probably glued to your screen over the past week, watching the psychodrama play out at OpenAI, a company literally at the center of the current AI moment we're in.

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