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Report: Silicon Valley Fears AI Export Regulations

Silicon Valley ought to have been named Balloon Town. The American tech industry often appears as if it will collapse under the slightest amount of stress. (Recall the dot-com bust of the early 2000s?) Now, according to The New York Times, many of these companies view the impending export restrictions on artificial intelligence by the U.S. Department of Commerce as an inflatable animal would view a porcupine.

Here’s the issue: The U.S. Congress voted in August to restrict the export of “emerging and foundational technologies” to protect national security. The New York Times reported that a Commerce Department proposal would restrict the export of “several categories of artificial intelligence, including computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language understanding,” to previously sanctioned countries.

Americans have until January 10 to voice their opinions on this proposal. The Commerce Department is then responsible for determining which technologies and export destinations it wishes to restrict. Naturally, tech companies have requested leniency from the government, as they believe that limiting the export of their AI tools would allow companies in affected nations to seize their local markets.

This entire exchange is as obvious as 99 luft balloons – oops, I meant red balloons – at a funeral. The United States wishes to restrict AI exports to Russia, Iran, and China. The first two have been repeatedly accused of using tech platforms to influence U.S. politics, while the third is America’s adversary in a trade war that could have a significant impact on tech products.

Silicon Valley naturally opposes these restrictions. In their efforts to maximize profits for their shareholders, tech companies frequently rely on regulatory oversights about consumer privacy, competition, and other consumer protections. (See: Facebook’s data sharing, ride-hailing companies’ disregard for traffic laws, and numerous anti-monopoly protections.) Why should artificial intelligence be different?

However, The New York Times notes that AI is somewhat unique due to its collaborative nature. Most companies do not develop AI technologies on their own; instead, they collaborate with their competitors, advance open-source projects, and involve individuals from around the globe. The technology is so new and has so much growth potential that it is easier for competitors to collaborate.

This collaboration hinders the Commerce Department’s ability to enforce export restrictions. As the proverb goes, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so publicly available information will remain, well, publicly available. It would have to restrict AI in other ways, such as prohibiting the sale of hardware to affected nations or restricting their access to data.

The former would be bad news for companies like AMD, Intel, and Nvidia which have prioritized the development of AI products in recent years. The latter would further undermine the principle of collaboration upon which the internet was founded, which could slow AI research in the U.S. technology sector. Both would effectively cut off these businesses from vital revenue streams and knowledge sources.

Even though this conflict is as cliche as a balloon animal station at a child’s birthday party, it could still have severe consequences for American businesses. Diverse technologies fall under the umbrella of “artificial intelligence,” but they are all integral to these businesses. Consider the proliferation of voice assistants, natural language input, facial recognition, etc. in virtually all technological products.

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The article above was written by the BestTopReviewsOnline team, which includes many of the US’s most knowledgeable technical experts. Our team includes well-known writers with extensive experience in mobile phones, computing, technology, photography, and other fields.

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