/ Artificial Intelligence

Why discussing whether to regulate AI misses the point

There has been an interesting discussion going on. Does AI represent a major threat to humanity, and how should it be regulated. John Battelle: Is AI the worst mistake in human history? lays out some of the key points in a succinct way.

Everything significant gets regulated: why would AI be different?

Like it or loathe it, most things are regulated. We may soon be able to enjoy a curved cucumber again and no longer have to call it an English sausage - but regulation isn’t going to go away. From privacy protection and cookie usage to nuclear non-proliferation and genetic modification: its here to stay.

Real question 1: how do you enforce regulation?

I don’t pretend it will be plain sailing to decide what’s OK and what’s not, but it’s going to be a lot harder to deal with those that wilfully do not comply. And in the final analysis, that is where the real trouble will arise.

The irony is almost certainly that will be some form of software sniffer dog. I expect the security industry are rubbing their hands at this latest challenge and opportunity.

Real question 2: how do you tax the use of AI?

This is where my cynicism as an accountant comes to the fore. There are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes. Imagine the position of national governments faced with falling labour expenditure and lowering tax take. It may be that labour will find a new outlet, but if as people fear labour becomes no longer needed or wanted, I fully expect the Tax Man to continue to come calling.

Make hay whilst the sun shines!

As we sit today there is only one course of action for sensible business people. Take the decision infront of you. AI already offers significant commercial advantages. Its use is not impeded by regulation. It attracts no additional tax. It is merely an opportunity for investment for future profits. So for now there is only one thing to do: adopt new technology and take the commercial advantage as quickly as your business allows.