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EDITORIAL | G7 Needs Clear AI Rules to Balance Regulation and Utilization

The G7 digital and tech ministers recognize the risks of generative AI, but must face the challenge of forming a common vision for the emerging technology.



G7 Ministers' Meeting
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (front row, second from right) delivers a speech at the opening of the G7 Digital and Technology Ministerial Meeting in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, on the morning of April 29 (© Sankei by Reo Otsubo)

G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture, adopted a declaration on April 30 before adjourning. It called for the development and promotion of artificial intelligence rules in the form of "human-centric and trustworthy AI."

The participating countries agreed to work toward establishing international technical standards on artificial intelligence. They also identified five principles for dealing with emerging technologies, including AI. These are: fostering opportunities for businesses of all sizes, ensuring reasonable procedures for access, the rule of law, democracy, and human rights

Rapid advances are being made in generative AI that creates text and images, such as the interactive AI, ChatGPT. Now, how to properly develop and utilize these revolutionary technologies has become a common challenge worldwide.

It is very meaningful for the G7 countries to work together to address this issue. These are countries which possess advanced AI technology and share values such as democracy. We would like to view the recently concluded ministerial meeting as a step forward in that regard. This should be used as a starting point to continuously deepen discussions and establish effective rules. 

Chat GPT has its own logo. In February, 2023 (© Reuters via Kyodo)

Bringing AI Risks Into Focus

There are concerns over generative AI and the risks it poses. Some concerns relate to the spread of false information, leakage of personal information, and copyright infringement. China, Russia, and other despotic nations could also exploit AI technologies for sinister purposes. 

With such threats in mind, it was appropriate that the declaration clearly stated, "We oppose the misuse and abuse of AI to undermine democratic values, suppress freedom of expression, and threaten the enjoyment of human rights."

The problem is the "differences in temperature" among countries regarding the form that regulations should take. European countries in general have been proactive in strengthening regulations. For example, there is the EU's move to enact a new AI regulation law to protect personal information and copyrights. In contrast, Japan places more emphasis on utilization than regulation, believing that excessive regulation may undermine innovation.

The G7 meeting did not resolve this rift. The joint statement simply noted it. Point 43 says, "We recognize that like-minded approaches and policy instruments to achieve the common vision and goal of trustworthy AI may vary across G7 members."

No doubt, this was the reason why meeting participants could not get into the specifics of AI rules. 

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura.

Japan's Approach

That said, is it appropriate for Japan to blindly move toward stricter regulations? Currently it lags the United States, China, and some other nations in the development of AI technology. Isn't having AI technology first established domestically a prerequisite for dealing with the AI risks? 

The question really boils down to how to balance regulation and utilization. 

AI technology has the potential to radically change the various aspects of our environment. Its impacts range from the economy and society to national security.

Isn't it time to intensify our efforts to address that new reality?


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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