Microsoft Calls for A.I. Rules to Minimize the Technology’s Risks

Its president, Brad Smith, said companies needed to “step up” and governments needed to “move faster” as artificial intelligence progressed.
Microsoft Calls for A.I. Rules to Minimize the Technology’s Risks

“There is not an iota of abdication of responsibility,” he said.

He endorsed the idea, supported by Mr. Altman during his congressional testimony, that a government agency should require companies to obtain licenses to deploy “highly capable” A.I. models.

“That means you notify the government when you start testing,” Mr. Smith said. “You’ve got to share results with the government. Even when it’s licensed for deployment, you have a duty to continue to monitor it and report to the government if there are unexpected issues that arise.”

Microsoft, which made more than $22 billion from its cloud computing business in the first quarter, also said those high-risk systems should be allowed to operate only in “licensed A.I. data centers.” Mr. Smith acknowledged that the company would not be “poorly positioned” to offer such services, but said many American competitors could also provide them.

Microsoft added that governments should designate certain A.I. systems used in critical infrastructure as “high risk” and require them to have a “safety brake.” It compared that feature to “the braking systems engineers have long built into other technologies such as elevators, school buses and high-speed trains.”

In some sensitive cases, Microsoft said, companies that provide A.I. systems should have to know certain information about their customers. To protect consumers from deception, content created by A.I. should be required to carry a special label, the company said.

Mr. Smith said companies should bear the legal “responsibility” for harms associated with A.I. In some cases, he said, the liable party could be the developer of an application like Microsoft’s Bing search engine that uses someone else’s underlying A.I. technology. Cloud companies could be responsible for complying with security regulations and other rules, he added.

“We don’t necessarily have the best information or the best answer, or we may not be the most credible speaker,” Mr. Smith said. “But, you know, right now, especially in Washington D.C., people are looking for ideas.”