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Look Before You Leap to Regulating AI

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), lawmakers must avoid the temptations to overregulate. A knee-jerk reaction to wrap AI in red tape could halt America’s innovation engine, block life saving technologies and cede ground to global competitors like China.

Fortunately, most concerns raised about AI are already addressed by existing laws. Even a simple analysis of the greatest concerns shows we don’t need new laws; we need better enforcement of existing ones. 

Let’s start with the worry about AI-generated deepfakes being used to commit fraud. Yet, we already have extensive anti-fraud rules in place to tackle any fraudulent behavior, regardless of tools used to commit such crimes. From wire fraud statutes to identity theft laws, these provisions can be applied to fraudulent acts carried out with AI.

What about using AI generated deep fakes being used to cast individuals in a false light? This, too, is already well-covered by U.S. defamation and false light tort laws. These laws can be applied to situations where AI is used to harm an individual’s reputation. 

There’s much anxiety over AI “stealing” literary works for training language models, like LLMs. However, existing copyright laws and fair use principles are designed to tackle this issue. They discern between unlawful copying and transformative uses of copyrighted material.

In essence, while there’s a fear of AI being used for criminal activities, if an action is already criminal, it’s criminal, regardless of whether it’s enabled by AI tools or not. Existing criminal law doesn’t give a pass to technologically-facilitated crimes.

Rather than attempting to ban or over-regulate AI, we should be focusing on enforcing existing laws that already address these harms. America’s traditional approach has always been to regulate the bad actions, not the technologies themselves. We didn’t ban cars because people speed; we enforced speed limits. We didn’t outlaw the internet because it could be misused; we created laws to penalize criminal online behaviors.

Congress and Biden’s push to excessively regulate AI risks stymieing innovation, jeopardizing our economy and potentially handing our global competitors an advantage. AI, used responsibly, has immense potential to drive progress – in healthcare, education, energy and more. 

Our focus should be on harnessing that potential while ensuring the abuse of AI technology is curbed through existing legal means.

At the end of the day, AI is simply a tool. Therefore, let’s not let fear dictate policy-making around it. Instead, we should refine and apply our existing laws, encourage responsible AI use, and ensure that any new regulations are narrowly tailored to address the gaps. This way, Americans can continue to innovate without hindering our global competitiveness.