6-month pause for AI development: BvD chairman signs open letter

Apr 6, 2023

BvD chairman Thomas Spaeing, together with numerous experts from AI research and industry as well as a wide variety of other fields, has signed an open letter pointing out that AI systems can pose significant risks to society and humanity.

“Unfortunately, the necessary planning (societal development) and monitoring (testability, risk management, …) is not currently taking place, even though recent months have shown that AI labs are competing in an out-of-control race to create increasingly powerful digital intelligences that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control,” Spaeing said.

To address this danger, the open letter calls for at least a six-month pause in the development of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4, during which time AI labs and independent expert:ers should collaborate to design and implement safety protocols for the development of advanced AI that are rigorously tested and monitored by independent experts. The protocols should ensure that systems that comply with them are secure beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The goal, he said, should be to focus AI development on safer, more accurate, more transparent, and more trustworthy models, while creating robust governance systems for AI that should include monitoring and tracking of powerful AI systems and large-scale computing capabilities, auditing, and certification systems.

In addition, a discourse on liability for harm caused by AI, public funding for AI technical security research, and well-resourced institutions to manage the potentially dramatic economic and political developments in this context must be started so that society can keep pace with these developments.

In this way, data protection officers and other review bodies can draw on secure standardized procedures to help companies and institutions use such AI systems safely and permissibly. These are the foundations for ensuring that patients, customers, applicants, employees, citizens, and suppliers can trust that their data will be processed securely and in compliance with fundamental rights.

All information about the Association of Data Protection Officers Germany (BvD) can be found at www.efdpo.eu/germany-bvd.

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