Apr 16, 2024 - Technology

Ex-OpenAI director calls for greater disclosure and auditing of AI companies

Illustration of a repeating pattern of robot hands holding magnifying glasses.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Former OpenAI director Helen Toner said Tuesday that AI leaders such as Google, Microsoft and OpenAI should be required to share details of their most advanced systems and open them to outside auditing.

Why it matters: Without such auditing, Toner told the TED2024 conference, the companies are "just grading their own homework."

  • "Left to their own devices it looks like AI companies might go in a similar direction to social media companies," said Toner, who is a director at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

The big picture: Toner's call represents the Georgetown researcher's strongest call to action since she exited the OpenAI board following the failed ouster of CEO Sam Altman.

Between the lines: Toner said the AI debate often gets described as a choice between stepping on the gas or slamming on the brakes. She said what she wants is a clear windshield and better steering.

  • "We don't have any agreement on what we are trying to build," Toner said, or on "what the roadmap looks like from here."

Toner called for a wider swath of society to weigh in on what they want out of AI.

  • "Don't be intimidated by the technology or the people building it," Toner said. "You don't have to be a scientist or engineer to have a voice."

Context: Toner's comments followed a series of optimistic talks on the future of AI from Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, investor Vinod Khosla and others, with the technology again a major focus of the weeklong event in Vancouver.

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