The U.S. government has entered into a voluntary agreement with leading venture capital firms to encourage early-stage startups to develop artificial intelligence (AI) responsibly. The initiative, known as the Responsible AI Initiative, is a joint effort between the Commerce Department and the Responsible Innovation Lab (RIL), a consortium of tech industry players that advocates for safe innovation practices.
Under the agreement, investors who sign on will commit to funding early-stage AI companies under a set of voluntary safeguards. These include disclosing safety evaluations, submitting to regular audits of their AI platforms, and committing to implementing any necessary improvements. The focus on startups is deliberate to ensure that AI regulations don’t favor tech’s biggest players.
According to Hemant Taneja, the managing director of venture capital firm General Catalyst and founder of the think tank leading the initiative, a framework of accountability, explainability, and transparency is needed. Startups often lack the resources to consider the long-term implications of the technology they develop, making it important to provide clear guidelines for responsible AI practices.
The Responsible Innovation Labs executive director, Gaurab Bansal, stated that the framework promotes responsible innovation, growth for early-stage companies leveraging AI, and ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors. The initiative has received support from other venture capital firms such as Mayfield, Bain Capital Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners, and Lux Capital.
Investors and prospective buyers are more likely to trust and invest in startups that can guarantee responsible uses of AI. Lauren Wagner, a senior advisor at Responsible Innovation Labs, emphasized the importance of startups gaining the trust of customers who rely on their AI systems.
The Responsible AI Initiative aims to create competition between incumbents and startups in the AI sector. It recognizes that startups need guidance and support to ensure responsible development and use of AI technology.
Overall, the initiative seeks to establish a framework for responsible AI practices, promote collaboration between different sectors, and ensure that AI regulations are developed in a manner that does not disadvantage startups.