The US Government to Require Tech Companies to Provide Information on AI Breakthroughs

The global impact of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year caught many industry leaders off guard. Recognizing the potential risks and implications of AI breakthroughs, the Biden administration is taking novel steps to ensure advanced warning about significant AI developments. The US government plans to utilize the Defense Production Act to compel tech giants, such as Google, OpenAI, and Amazon, to notify them when training large language models using substantial computing power. This new requirement aims to provide valuable insights into sensitive AI projects and their safety testing procedures. With potential enforcement taking place as early as next week, the government seeks to establish transparency and oversight within the AI community.

The forthcoming rule will grant the US government access to crucial information, previously kept private. By compelling companies to disclose their advancements in AI, both in terms of training models and safety testing, the government aims to stay ahead of developing technologies. An example of this potential impact is OpenAI’s ongoing work in creating a successor to their renowned GPT-3 model, which has been shrouded in secrecy. Through the new reporting requirements, the US government may become the first to receive updates on projects like GPT-4 and, possibly, even GPT-5. OpenAI has yet to respond to inquiries regarding this development.

The use of the Defense Production Act grants the US government unique authority to survey companies training large language models. By leveraging this executive power, the government has the ability to review safety data, ensuring that AI breakthroughs align with evolving regulations. Speaking at an event held at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Gina Raimondo, the US Secretary of Commerce, emphasized the significance of this decision. She proclaimed the necessity of companies sharing details about their AI models, allowing the government to evaluate their impact fully. This regulatory step signifies a more proactive approach to national security and ethical concerns surrounding AI development.

The implementation of these new rules stems from an executive order issued by the White House in October. The order mandated the Commerce Department to devise a scheme requiring companies to inform the US officials about their powerful AI model developments. Alongside providing details about computing power usage, data ownership, and safety testing procedures, these reporting obligations aim to establish a framework for responsible AI innovation. While the executive order outlines the need for AI model reporting, specific thresholds and details are still being determined. The initial benchmarks propose a minimum of 100 septillion floating-point operations per second (flops) for general models, with 1,000 times lower thresholds for large language models focused on DNA sequencing.

Both OpenAI and Google have largely withheld information about the computational resources employed to train their most powerful models, such as GPT-4 and Gemini. However, a congressional research service report suggests that the computational power required for GPT-4 exceeds 1026 flops. As the government moves forward with its reporting requirements, these tech giants will have to unveil the magnitude of their computing capabilities. This disclosure will shed light on the immense resources invested in AI research and development, giving the public and stakeholders a more comprehensive understanding of the progress being made.

In addition to the requirements placed on tech companies, the Commerce Department will soon introduce another mandate from the October executive order. Cloud computing providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google will need to inform the government when foreign entities use their resources to train large language models. This extension broadens the scope of oversight, ensuring that even collaborations with international partners are subject to scrutiny. By implementing these measures early in the AI development process, the government seeks to establish an environment of transparency, accountability, and safety.

By leveraging the Defense Production Act, the US government is taking decisive steps to ensure they remain informed about significant AI breakthroughs. Through the forthcoming reporting requirements, they aim to gain insights into top AI projects, including safety testing protocols, that were previously undisclosed. This executive action, accompanied by the comprehensive executive order issued last October, signifies a dramatic shift in how the US government approaches the regulation of AI. As the industry evolves, these measures will foster responsible innovation and address potential risks associated with large language models and powerful AI systems.


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