(Repost) Bloomberg -- US Wants Cloud Firms to Report Foreign Users Building AI

Key Points on U.S. Plans to Monitor Cloud Firms' Foreign AI Users:

  1. Disclosure Requirements for Cloud Companies: The U.S. Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, announced plans to require U.S. cloud companies to report when foreigners use their services for AI applications. This initiative aims to monitor and control the use of cloud computing power in developing large-language models (LLMs) by non-U.S. entities.

  2. Part of the Tech War Between Washington and Beijing: This move is seen as the next phase in the ongoing technological rivalry between the U.S. and China. It is intended to prevent potential misuse of AI for malicious cyber activities.

  3. President Biden's Directive: In October, President Joe Biden directed the Commerce Department to enforce these disclosure requirements. The directive is part of broader efforts to detect and prevent foreign actors, particularly from China, from accessing or developing advanced AI technologies that could be used harmfully.

  4. Focus on Regulating Cloud via Export Controls: Following restrictions on China's access to advanced semiconductors, the U.S. is exploring ways to regulate cloud services, which could be used as an alternative to directly accessing powerful chips.

  5. Concerns Over Chinese Access to Computing Power: The U.S. is worried that Chinese companies might use cloud services provided by companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft's Azure, and Google Cloud to access the computing power equivalent to advanced semiconductors.

  6. Efforts to Restrict China's Tech Advancements: The U.S. has been actively trying to curb China's technological progress through various means, including restricting chip exports and sanctioning Chinese tech firms. Despite these efforts, Chinese companies have made significant advancements.

  7. Challenges in Regulating Cloud Services: Unlike physical goods, cloud services do not involve the transfer of tangible items, making regulation more complex. The U.S. Commerce Department has indicated that additional authority might be needed to effectively regulate this area.

  8. Concerns of U.S. Cloud Providers: U.S. cloud service providers are apprehensive that unilateral restrictions could disadvantage American firms if allied countries do not implement similar measures.

  9. Commerce Department's Separate Survey on AI Safety: The Commerce Department plans to survey companies developing LLMs about their safety tests, though specifics of these requests were not detailed.

  10. FTC Inquiry into AI Partnerships: The Federal Trade Commission has initiated an antitrust inquiry into AI partnerships, focusing on companies like Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft.

In summary, the U.S. government is stepping up efforts to regulate the use of cloud services for AI applications by foreign entities, particularly focusing on China. This includes mandatory reporting by cloud companies and potential new regulations, amidst concerns over national security and the technological race with Beijing.

(Transcribed with OpenAI Whisper)

U.S. wants cloud firms to report foreign users building A.I. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said her department is exploring how to force cloud companies to disclose when a foreigner taps their computing power to fuel artificial intelligence applications, signaling the next phase of the tech war between Washington and Beijing. We're beginning the process of requiring U.S. cloud companies to tell us every time a non-U.S. entity uses their cloud to train a large-language model, Raimondo said at an event Friday, without naming any countries or firms. President Joe Biden in October directed the agency to require such disclosures in an effort to detect foreign actors that might use A.I. to launch malicious cyber-enabled activity, according to Biden's directive. The Commerce Department has also been looking into ways to regulate the cloud via export controls, following up on sweeping restrictions limiting China's access to the most powerful semiconductors. The worry in Washington is that Chinese companies can access the same computing power of those chips through cloud providers such as Amazon.com incorporated's Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Corporation's Azure and Alphabet incorporated's Google Cloud. Read more, U.S. to tighten rules aimed at keeping advanced chips out of China. We want to make sure we shut down every avenue that the Chinese could have to get access to our models or to train their own models, Raimondo said in an interview last month. China's development of A.I. and other next-generation technologies is a top concern for the administration, which sees Beijing as its primary global strategic competitor. Washington has tried to rein in China's advances by restricting chip exports to the country and sanctioning individual Chinese firms, but the country's tech giants have managed to make significant breakthroughs despite U.S. curbs. The U.S. in October tightened its controls to capture more chips, equipment and geographies. One key update targeted Chinese headquartered companies operating in more than 40 countries, an attempt to prevent those firms from using other nations as intermediaries to secure semiconductors they can't access at home. But what the rules didn't address is Chinese firms' ability to tap into the capabilities of those chips via the cloud. It's unclear exactly how the U.S. would regulate that type of activity. Cloud services don't involve the transfer of physical goods, and Commerce has specifically said they are beyond the domain of export controls. Thea Kendler, Assistant Secretary for Export Administration, told lawmakers last month that we may need additional authority in that space. U.S. cloud providers have worried that restrictions on their activities with overseas users without comparable measures by allied countries risks disadvantaging American firms. The Commerce Department will separately survey companies that are developing large-language models about the results of their safety tests, Raimondo said Friday, though she didn't provide details about what they will request. Large-language models, or LLMs, are the software behind AI tools like ChatGPT. The potential new requirements come as the Federal Trade Commission opened a separate antitrust inquiry into AI partnerships. Read more, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft face FTC inquiry on AI partners. Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.


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