Bill Gates floats ‘global government’ during discussion of AI regulation with Sam Altman

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Billionaire tech mogul Bill Gates floated a “global government” during a podcast last week with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman about the potential need for a “global regulatory body” to keep potential abuses of artificial intelligence at bay. 

“If the key is to stop the entire world from doing something dangerous, you’d almost want global government,” Gates told Altman during last week’s episode of the Microsoft founder’s “Unconfuse Me” podcast.

The discussion between the two tech titans dove into the necessity of regulating AI technology and making sure that government officials have the tools to do so.

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Gates and Altman noted that U.S. government officials lacked understanding of social media and how to regulate that tech landscape in previous years, and that their education and cooperation on the new AI frontier is imperative to avoid it running amok.

Gates told his guest, “I don’t think we could ever say we did too much to draw the politicians in. And yet, when they say, ‘Oh, we blew it on social media, we should do better,’ – that is an outstanding challenge that there are very negative elements to, in terms of polarization. Even now, I’m not sure how we would deal with that.”

“I don’t understand why the government was not able to be more effective around social media, but it seems worth trying to understand as a case study for what they’re going to go through now with AI,” Altman replied.

Gates then wondered about what new set of government regulations might need to be set in place for AI, which Altman suggested could very well involve a “global regulatory body.”

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Sam Altman

“I think we’re starting to figure that out. It would be very easy to put way too much regulation on this space,” Altman said.  “But if we are right, and this technology goes as far as we think it’s going to go, it will impact society, geopolitical balance of power, so many things, that for these, still hypothetical, but future extraordinarily powerful systems… we have been socialized in the idea of a global regulatory body that looks at those super-powerful systems, because they do have such global impact.” 

Altman noted a global AI board would function like the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

“One model we talk about is something like the IAEA. For nuclear energy, we decided the same thing. This needs a global agency of some sort, because of the potential for global impact. I think that could make sense,” he said.

Gates agreed, floating the idea of a global government to deal with the potential dangers of AI. He said, “If the key is to stop the entire world from doing something dangerous, you’d almost want global government, which today for many issues, like climate, terrorism, we see that it’s hard for us to cooperate.”

Altman followed up by noting that there is interest for a global regulatory body to deal with the new technology, stating, “That feels possible to me. I wasn’t that sure before, but I did a big trip around the world this year, and talked to heads of state in many of the countries that would need to participate in this, and there was almost universal support for it.”

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