When Code Isn’t Law: Rethinking Regulation for Artificial Intelligence

05 Jun 2024

Brian Judge, Mark Nitzberg, and Stuart Russell wrote an article that was featured in Oxford Academic’s Policy and Society.

This article examines the challenges of regulating artificial intelligence (AI) systems and proposes an adapted model of regulation suitable for AI’s novel features. Unlike past technologies, AI systems built using techniques like deep learning cannot be directly analyzed, specified, or audited against regulations. Their behavior emerges unpredictably from training rather than intentional design. However, the traditional model of delegating oversight to an expert agency, which has succeeded in high-risk sectors like aviation and nuclear power, should not be wholly discarded. Instead, policymakers must contain risks from today’s opaque models while supporting research into provably safe AI architectures. Drawing lessons from AI safety literature and past regulatory successes, effective AI governance will likely require consolidated authority, licensing regimes, mandated training data and modeling disclosures, formal verification of system behavior, and the capacity for rapid intervention.