Nov 28, 2023 - Technology

CFPB's Chopra: AI could dangerously concentrate power

CFPB director Rohit Chopra. Photo: Eric Lee/Axios

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Rohit Chopra on Tuesday said he's concerned that a handful of firms and individuals could wield "enormous control over decisions made throughout the world" with advances in artificial intelligence.

Driving the news: Chopra spoke with Axios Pro's Ashley Gold at the Axios AI+ Summit in Washington, D.C., highlighting the way the massive aggregation of consumer data will alter the economy and impact Americans.

  • Chopra shared his worries over AI's "winner-take-all" dimension, given its ability to "simulate human interaction in a way I don't think we've seen before."
  • This elevates concerns over fraud, crime and abuse, particularly in functions of financial services like customer service and lending, he said.
  • But Chopra noted that there are "long-standing laws on the books" that can address this, and "if those laws are changed" they should be put to use as well.

What they're saying: "Who really is in control of it? Who gets the gains from it? With lots of aggregations from data, much of the gains are not broadly distributed and they go to a handful of people," said Chopra.

  • "You always want to be concerned when there's any type of market structure that quickly goes to just a few players," he said.

Of note: On antitrust, Chopra pointed out that pools of data are assets and that's a "huge question" for regulators.

  • "I think there is existing antitrust law to deal with, but how the regulators can find out about them and address them, that's a big ticket item," he said.
  • "But there is this piece of this, are we ever going to put some of the genies back in the bottle? … This is a different type of warfare, a different type of human interaction. I really want to make sure whatever we do today, we can stop a lot of that."

What's next: Looking ahead, Chopra threw some cold water on the idea that there should be a new agency to regulate AI.

  • "If you're gonna do that, you have to keep the existing ones, too," he said, adding that "the challenge of regulating data is you're regulating everything."
  • CFPB is one of the newest agencies, he pointed out, and it was formed because there was a lack of accountability for protecting consumers. Anyone who wants to add anew agency needs to figure out what they want to achieve with it first.
  • It's difficult to consolidate everything that AI will touch, from national security to mergers and acquisitions, into one agency, he said.
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