The Tragedy of AI Governance

Paper by Simon Chesterman: “Despite hundreds of guides, frameworks, and principles intended to make AI “ethical” or “responsible”, ever more powerful applications continue to be released ever more quickly. Safety and security teams are being downsized or sidelined to bring AI products to market. And a significant portion of AI developers apparently believe there is a real risk that their work poses an existential threat to humanity.

This contradiction between statements and action can be attributed to three factors that undermine the prospects for meaningful governance of AI. The first is the shift of power from public to private hands, not only in deployment of AI products but in fundamental research. The second is the wariness of most states about regulating the sector too aggressively, for fear that it might drive innovation elsewhere. The third is the dysfunction of global processes to manage collective action problems, epitomized by the climate crisis and now frustrating efforts to govern a technology that does not respect borders. The tragedy of AI governance is that those with the greatest leverage to regulate AI have the least interest in doing so, while those with the greatest interest have the least leverage.

Resolving these challenges either requires rethinking the incentive structures — or waiting for a crisis that brings the need for regulation and coordination into sharper focus…(More)”