Yoshua Bengio, a renowned Canadian computer scientist in the AI field and a recipient of the Turing Award, has expressed concerns about the concentration of power within the AI industry. He believes this issue ranks as one of the most significant risks facing the sector, second only to the existential threats posed by AI technology itself.
“We are on a trajectory to build more and more powerful systems and the central question for democracy is who controls these systems – is there a risk of excessive concentration of power,” he told Insider in an interview.
“These are important questions I’ve been thinking about for years but the arrival of ChatGPT and these systems made me worry even more about the concentration of power,” Bengio added.
Bengio’s apprehensions were made clear during an interview with Insider. He responded to concerns raised by fellow AI pioneer Yann LeCun, who suggested that influential tech leaders, including Sam Altman of OpenAI, were attempting to gain control of the AI industry by advocating for stricter regulations. In particular, LeCun accused AI founders such as Demis Hassabis of DeepMind and Dario Amodei of Anthropic of pursuing a “regulatory capture” of the AI industry.
“We should avoid the situation where the rules are written by the companies – that’s obvious,” Bengio said. “But this whole discussion about regulatory capture I think it’s just not a fact.”
Bengio, however, expressed his disagreement with this viewpoint. He argued that the proposed regulations, at least in their current form, might not provide the expected boost to big tech companies. These regulations primarily focus on imposing greater oversight and regulatory burdens on larger AI systems developed by these major corporations. Consequently, the cost and pressure on these companies could increase substantially.
In contrast, Bengio believes that smaller players in the AI field, who are engaged in narrow AI applications or designing solutions on top of the larger AI systems, may not be subject to the same level of scrutiny. In essence, Bengio’s perspective is that current regulatory efforts could inadvertently place more pressure and financial burden on major tech companies, while smaller entities may continue with relatively less oversight.
“All the various regulations that are being discussed are generally with the idea that the oversight regulatory burden will be larger for these bigger systems that those large companies build,” Benigo said.
“So in other words it’s actually going to put more pressure and cost more,” he added. “But the small guys that are either doing narrow AI, or just designing applications on top of the biggest systems, will not need to be under the same kind of scrutiny.”