Mar 22, 2023 - Technology

Critics say tech companies can't be left to their own on AI

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Photo: Courtesy of NBC News

Tristan Harris, the ex-Googler who has been calling out Big Tech for a variety of societal harms caused by social media, is now sounding the alarm over artificial intelligence.

  • In an interview with NBC Nightly News' Lester Holt that airs tonight, the Center for Humane Technology co-founder says regulation is urgently needed.

"No one is building the guardrails," Harris says in a clip of the interview, which NBC shared first with Axios. "And this has moved so much faster than our government has been able to understand or appreciate."

The big picture: Few laws specifically cover how companies or governments use artificial intelligence, though the European Union has begun drafting a wide-ranging AI Act.

Between the lines: Harris and his Center for Humane Tech colleague Aza Raskin say that efforts within tech companies to build "responsible AI" and other forms of self-regulation are insufficient.

  • "Responsibility always gets bulldozed by market incentives, by your stock price, by needing to beat somebody else," Raskin says in the NBC interview.
  • Even many of the companies involved in the technology have called for regulation, and other warnings have come from rank-and-file workers.
  • "The people inside the companies know that this is moving at a reckless pace, which is why they've kind of channeled their concerns to us," Harris said.
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