Regulation and Performative Ethics Guidelines Will Not Prevent AI Misuse

Almost simultaneous with the release of OpenAI’s public ChatGPT platform, activists and influencers swarmed the internet to demand restrictive laws and expanded corporate governance. Predominantly left-leaning student organizations, like Encode Justice, and mainstream media immediately warned that “the end is near.” Identical to alarmist responses to the rise of iPhones and social media, articles and TV interviews repetitively denounce artificial intelligence (AI) as an existential threat to high school education, political campaigning, and more.

I think I’ve seen this film before. In the early 2010s, suburban parents vigilantly tracked their kids’ internet usage and history. Simultaneously, school librarians warned against social media “misinformation” while promoting their preferred thought leaders from major outlets. Assistant principals reinforced the belief in cancel culture with bizarre presentations on how “the internet lives forever” and that students’ social lives should proceed as walking on eggshells. Two decades earlier, policymakers warned that nuclear energy would pose an outstanding risk to public safety and insisted ethanol would become the savior to America’s energy crisis. This followed with questions about regulating graphic video games and more as the digital world expanded. We all know how this story goes.

As artificial intelligence begins to offer life-changing benefits for ordinary people in the workplace and academia, the outrage machine insists that the world is worse than it was before. A culture of pessimism pervades our outlook on cutting-edge developments that could vastly improve our daily lives and function. But before allowing entrepreneurs to create new job opportunities and better everyday life for all of us, activists and their allies seek regulation. Here we go again.

We should not forget that today’s Americans live longer, healthier and more prosperous lives than any generation before them. We cannot ignore the international social connections and economic exchange enabled by the internet. And we should not abandon optimism of how AI could grow small businesses, reduce average work hours, and even cure life-threatening disease.

The same ideologies that espoused “decolonization” or “defund the police”—frightening dystopias, as we now acknowledge—promote government-enforced social justice as the best device to solve problems online. However, this is simply not true. Additional regulations and the cultural impact of quasi-nonprofits do not resolve human division and discrimination. Americans cannot allow for an vocal minority of performativity to cloud the AI advancements our modern society requires.

The free market can sort out ethical AI. Just as private enterprise truly leads the way on clean energy, environmentally-conscious infrastructure, affordable medicine, and new housing development, businesses can address human bias, inaccurate information and other harmful uses of AI. The first step requires keeping politics out of innovation. Next, hopeful entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals must dive in head first to the world of AI.

All signs show they will rise to the occasion. From Zuckerberg and Musk to BCG and McKinsey, outspoken business voices are getting ahead of the curb on AI. Free markets resolve issues on their own. Capitalism responds to people’s demands. When it comes to AI, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

AI policymaking should enable self-expression and original thought. State and federal government needs to strengthen intellectual property rights and protect against monopolization. Companies should lead the way on AI-produced watermarks and educational plagiarism detection software. Activist groups, often led by students with no coding credentials or governing experience, can continue offering concerns for the companies to solve. Otherwise, tech innovation is not the arena for academia word salads, political safe spaces, and ideological purity tests.

Americans live in their comfort zone with technology. Today, even parents reshare TikToks and Instagram Reels with each other. The era of novelty seen in the early 2000s and 2010s ended, now only to start again with AI. But our worst fears cannot take control and stifle progress. Technological transformation can improve our world. AI will solve the Riemann hypothesis and improve corporate efficiency.

The future awaits us if we allow the market to run its course. Politicians on the right and left need to denounce attempts at bureaucratizing AI with ideological frameworks. While the Internet can certainly no longer be the Wild West, our next generation must move forward unafraid of the challenges that might emerge in the development and spread of AI technology. Like the leaders before us, healthy balances between digital freedoms and safety can be found. If only we let businesses find them.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Sam Raus

Sam Raus is a Young Voices Contributor and a recent University of Miami graduate, majoring in public relations and political science. His commentary has appeared in RealClearPolitics, The Daily Caller, and The National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @SamRaus1.

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