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US government official highlights need to educate regulators on AI

A high-ranking US government official has highlighted the need to educate regulators in order for them not to distrust technology. Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes made the remarks during a robust panel discussion at the AI Everything conference which is being held at the Dubai World Trade Center in Dubai.

The panel debate which was moderated by CNN’s John Defterios, examined some of the complex challenges presented by AI and explored some of the opportunities presented by the integration of AI into our everyday lives.

The panelists included H.E. Wesam Lootah, CEO of Smart Dubai, Dr. Lim Goh, CTO of AI at HPE, David Cox, CTO and Director of the IBM-MIT Lab, and Chair of the House of Lords Committee on AI, Lord Tim Clement Jones.

The US Government official said that AI just like every other technology has the power to be used for the greater good. However, he countered his point by illustrating that just like every other technology it can be abused.

Reyes said, “There’s absolutely no doubt that AI can be used to improve the quality of our lives, although it’s also important to note that AI just like every other incredible technological innovation can be abused. We have seen abuses of technology in social media and the dark web on the internet, and so I think it’s critical that we acknowledge some of the ethical implications of AI.”

The Attorney General of Utah comes from a private sector background, and has vast experience in both investing and developing start-up companies in the tech industry. He says that it’s clear that in terms of regulation the private sector is ten years ahead of the public sector.

In an effort to bridge the divide between the public and private sector in terms of regulatory policy, Reyes has said that educating regulators not to distrust technology was the fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.

Reyes added, “I come from the private sector and I was involved in managing, developing and investing in technology companies. To be quite frank, since moving into a government role it’s become very evident to me that many of our officials simply don’t understand the technology. When you mention blockchain they automatically think of the Silk Road and become skeptical. They simply don’t understand the technology, and naturally as a result become fearful. We need to help regulators and educate them on the benefits of technology so we can get the regulation we need to drive these technologies forward.”

One recurring theme that has stalked AI over the last number of years has been the thorny issue of the global job displacement it is likely to cause. However, all the panelists were resolute in their view that it’s going to be a case of more augmentation rather than substitution.

IBM’s David Cox swiftly dismissed fears that the implementation of AI into multiple industries would lead to catastrophic job losses. He said, “AI won’t lead to job replacement, or job catastrophe, it will create a job revolution. It will unchain millions of workers from mundane and unfulfilling jobs, by creating new roles that are much more challenging and will ultimately provide them with a greater satisfaction in their work.”