Amid ever-increasing concerns over the potential threats posed by the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI), the White House has announced a $140 million initiative to keep close tabs on the situation, and to the surprise of many, has named Vice President Kamala Harris to serve its “AI Czar," as Breitbart reports.
In announcing its new actions in the realm of AI, the White House suggested the importance of promoting “responsible American innovation” and protecting “people's rights and safety. The administration's statement on the matter continued, saying, “AI is one of the most powerful technologies of our time, but in order to seize the opportunities it presents, we must first mitigate its risks.”
“President Biden has been clear that when it comes to AI, we must place people and communities at the center by supporting responsible innovation that serves the public good, while protecting our society, security, and economy,” the White House added.
The statement further indicated that Harris and other senior administration officials were slated to meet with the heads of four American firms currently “at the forefront of AI innovation,” namely, Anthropic, Alphabet, Microsoft, and OpenAI.
That meeting, the White House said, was meant to be “part of a broader, ongoing effort to engage with advocates, companies, researchers, civil rights organizations, not-for-profit organizations, communities, international partners, and others on critical AI issues.”
The decision to assign this issue area to Harris is a curious one, given her historically low job approval ratings and the fact that she is perceived by large segments of the electorate as having failed at other high-profile tasks given to her by the president.
Despite being Biden's supposed point person for the southern border crisis, few seem to believe she has taken the role seriously or achieved any measurable results on the issue, as Fox News notes.
Even White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre found it hard to praise Harris' handling of the border when asked about her performance earlier this week, as the Daily Caller reported.
“What report card would you give the vice president for her handling of the root causes of migration in Central America?” Jean-Pierre was asked.
Jean-Pierre replied rather vaguely, “So, I've learned from my predecessor to never fall into that trap of giving grades. What we can say from here is that the president appreciates and has been very impressed by her partnership in this administration. He sees her as a partner, and they will continue to work in that way as we move forward.”
Though Harris asserted last fall that the southern border is secure, the Daily Caller pointed out that there has also been a record surge in migrant arrivals since the start of Biden's tenure.
With that sort of track record on one of her supposed priorities, any skepticism about Harris' latest assignment should not come as a surprise, particularly given the gravity of the topic.
A significant number of noted names in the tech world have already voiced their fears about the risks of unchecked expansion of AI, with Elon Musk among those who worry that it could soon overtake human capabilities and render much of humanity redundant, as the Daily Mail notes.
As such, it seems certain that many will continue to question the wisdom of putting in charge of such vexing questions someone known less for the tangible contributions she has made to the administration to date and more for the empty, word-salad musings she routinely spouts.