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Navigating AI Policy While Encouraging Innovation: Jutta Williams, Carnegie Mellon University's iSchool Alumna, Proposes a Path Forward


Carnegie Mellon University, The Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy


The key question facing lawmakers right now – the reason for all the recent Congressional hearings with tech leaders and faculty experts sitting across the room from Senators, talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and what policies are needed to keep society safe – is how to create guardrails for AI without squashing innovation or putting the United States at a strategic disadvantage in the world.

The range of roles Williams has played in government service, healthcare, and tech – she has worked everywhere from the U.S. Department of State to Facebook (now Meta), Twitter (now X), Google, and Reddit – has given her unique insight into and perspective on how best to navigate that tension between regulation and innovation.


The Challenges for Lawmakers


Creating policy is no easy task. Technology evolves much more rapidly than any policy could possibly be adjusted to address each new iteration or breakthrough.

“Pace is the biggest enemy,” Williams explained. “We haven’t overcome the policy debt from the last two cycles of technological innovation, especially from a security and data-protection perspective.”

Even the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) fails to adequately address some of the privacy and security risks around AI, Williams said, and U.S. policy trails behind that.

Another challenge is that enforcement of regulations can be ineffective. The rules are too often vague or subject to interpretation, with financial penalties that might cost an organization money but fail to change industry practices.

“We’ve been chasing this ideal of making management accountable to address risk,” Williams said, “but the outcome is not making people safer.”



 

News submitted by Jennifer Monahan, Carnegie Mellon University, The Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

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