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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

White House's AI Watch: Cloud Firms to Disclose Clients?

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

In a move that could alter the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), the White House is reportedly considering an executive order that would require cloud computing firms to disclose certain customer information.

This potential directive, aimed at companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, could see these tech giants forced to reveal when a customer purchases computing resources beyond a specific threshold.

This proposed 'know-your-customer' policy, reminiscent of banking sector regulations designed to prevent illegal activities, is part of an effort to identify potential AI threats, particularly from foreign entities. For instance, if a Middle Eastern company were to build a powerful large language model using Amazon Web Services, this reporting requirement could provide US authorities with an early warning.

The proposed policy could see computing power treated as a national resource. Activities like Bitcoin mining, video game development, and running AI models like ChatGPT all require substantial compute resources. If implemented, this measure would be a victory for organisations like OpenAI and the RAND Corporation think tank, which have advocated for similar mechanisms. However, critics argue that it could amount to a surveillance programme if not carefully executed.

The challenge, however, lies in the rapidly decreasing amount of computing power required to build powerful models like ChatGPT, due to improvements in training algorithms. By the time a reporting threshold is established, it could already be outdated. An alternative could be to identify qualitative indicators of alarm, but this would require cloud firms to extensively monitor their customers, potentially leading to conflicts of interest.

This policy would also only apply to one type of technology: large language models. Other AI tools used for harmful purposes, such as facial recognition algorithms, require far less compute to build and run, meaning they likely wouldn’t meet the threshold.

While the details of this proposed policy are yet to be finalised, it's clear that the White House's move could significantly impact the future of AI, cloud computing, and their intersection. As the world continues to grapple with the implications of AI, this development is one to watch.

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