Digital Diplomacy
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Digital Diplomacy

Can artificial intelligence be regulated? Perhaps not.

Photo by Tim Johnson on Unsplash

Rapid advances in AI

Artificial Intelligence is a rapidly evolving field. This fast pace can be illustrated by the development of AI-based predictive text models. In November 2019, OpenAI, a San Francisco-based AI research organization, released GPT2 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 2), an open-source AI capable of generating text almost indistinguishable from humans. The GPT2 language model was trained using 1.5 billion parameters. GPT3 was introduced six months later using 175 billion training parameters — a more than a hundred-fold increase. The Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI) released its “Wu Dao” AI system in June this year. The system was trained using 1.75 trillion parameters, more than a thousand times larger than GPT2.

The European Union’s regulatory framework

The European Commission’s regulation on AI prohibits certain practices associated with AI use, establishes safeguards for high-risk applications, and imposes severe penalties for noncompliance.

The practical reality

Let us take a closer look at the feasibility of regulating AI within the framework of the EU regulations. Article 5 stipulates several AI practices that are prohibited. The very first such practice includes “the placing on the market, putting into service or use of an AI system that deploys subliminal techniques beyond a person’s consciousness in order to materially distort a person’s behavior in a manner that causes or is likely to cause that person or another person physical or psychological harm.”

Weaponization of AI

In addition, we do not foresee a world where states will refrain from weaponizing AI for military purposes. Regulation cannot prevent such weaponization in the absence of internationally binding agreements. The United Nations has been working on curbs on the development of AI-enabled autonomous weapon systems. However, the country positions are not likely to result in a ban.



Tech, digital, and innovation, at the intersection with policy, government, and social good.

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Randeep Sudan

Founder of Multiverz, a tech company in Singapore. Interested in strategic futures and digital strategy. Former policymaker and World Bank Practice Manager.