FTC Chair Lina Khan Explains How the Agency Views AI | TechCrunch - Latest Global News

FTC Chair Lina Khan Explains How the Agency Views AI | TechCrunch

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will investigate the rise of AI technology on all fronts, FTC Chair Lina Khan said Tuesday at TechCrunch’s Strictly VC event in Washington, DC. But the agency’s goal is not to crush startups seeking to compete in the space through increased regulation, Khan said.

“We want to make sure that the arteries of trade are open, that the trade routes are open and that if you have a good idea and you can commercialise it – if there is interest in the market – you have a fair chance to compete,” Khan told the audience. “Your fate depends on the strength of your idea and your business talent, not on whether you pose a threat to one of the big guys who could knock you out of the race.”

Still, the FTC is not ignoring the technology and its potential dangers. In fact, it is already seeing an increase in consumer complaints in some areas, such as voice cloning, Khan said.

This type of technology recently made headlines when OpenAI released and removed a ChatGPT voice that sounded like actress Scarlett Johansson, who famously voiced the AI ​​in the movie “Her.” The actress claims she turned down OpenAI’s offer to record her voice for the chatbot, and instead she was cloned. (OpenAI claims it simply used a different voice actress.)

When asked what areas of AI the FTC is monitoring, Khan explained that it is all areas.

“We’re really looking at the entire stack – from the chips to the cloud to the models to the downstream apps – to understand what’s going on in each of those layers,” she said. The agency also wants to hear from “the people on the ground” about what they see as opportunities and risks.

Of course, overseeing AI also brings challenges, despite the number of technologists the FTC has hired to help in the area. Khan noted that the organization has received over 600 applications from technologists seeking employment at the FTC, but did not say how many of those were actually hired. Overall, however, the agency has about 1,300 employees, she said, which is 400 fewer people than it had in the 1980s, even as the economy has grown 15-fold.

Faced with dozens of antitrust cases and nearly a hundred consumer protection cases, the agency is now resorting to innovative tactics to win the fight against fraud, especially in the AI ​​space.

For example, Khan mentioned the agency’s recent voice cloning contest, where it invited the market and the public to submit ideas on how an agency like the FTC would be able to determine and monitor in real time whether a phone call or voice is genuine or whether it is using voice cloning for fraudulent purposes. In addition to attracting successful ideas from contests like this, the FTC also hopes to nudge the market to focus on developing more mechanisms to combat AI fraud.

Another focus for the FTC is what openness really means in the AI ​​context, Khan explained. “How do we make sure that it’s not just a branding exercise, but that when you look at the terms, it’s truly open?” she asked, adding that the agency wants to get ahead of some of those “first open, then close” dynamics seen in the Web 2.0 era.

“I think there’s a lot to learn in general, but I think right now, as we think about some of these AI tools, is the right time to apply them,” Khan said.

In addition, the agency is prepared to monitor the industry for AI hype that overstates the value of the product. “We believe some of these AI tools are being used to market and inflate the value of the offering, so we want to make sure we control that,” Khan noted. “We’ve already seen some cases of AI hype/misleading advertising – and that’s an area we continue to monitor closely.”

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