The Justice Department is increasing focus on artificial intelligence

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US and UK revealed alliance on AI safety and testing
US and UK revealed alliance on AI safety and testing

Justice Department Increases Focus on Artificial Intelligence Enforcement, Warns of Harsher Sentences

The Justice Department is ratcheting up its emphasis on artificial intelligence, with authorities warning Thursday that firms and individuals who purposefully misuse the technology to further a white-collar crime such as price fixing, fraud, or market manipulation may face stiffer penalties.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated that the Justice Department will consider how well a corporation manages the dangers of AI technology when assessing a corporate compliance program. Such a program consists of policies and procedures meant to detect wrongdoing and ensure that executives and staff follow the law.

The statements of the Justice Department’s No. 2 official highlight the extent to which law enforcement officials are concerned about how quickly growing technology could be leveraged by foreign foes or corporate criminals to harm the US. The statements were intended to remind business executives of their legal responsibilities to reduce the risk of AI developments.

Monaco revealed the policy changes one day after the Justice Department charged a former Google software engineer with stealing AI trade secrets from the Mountain View, California-based business while secretly working for two Chinese companies.

“All new technologies are a double-edged sword, but AI could be the sharpest blade yet. It has immense potential to better our lives, but it also poses a significant risk when criminals use it to amplify their illicit actions, including corporate crime,” Monaco told an American Bar Association meeting of white-collar lawyers in San Francisco.

Even as the Justice Department strives “to responsibly harness the benefits of AI, we are alert to its risks, and we will be using our tools in new ways to address them,” she said.

Federal prosecutors have historically employed harsher punishments for offenders whose actions are deemed to pose an unusually serious risk to victims and the public, and the same idea applies to AI, she explained.

“Where AI is deliberately misused to make a white-collar crime significantly more serious,” Monaco went on to say, “our prosecutors will be seeking stiffer sentences—for individuals and corporate defendants alike.”

“And,” she continued, “compliance officers should take note.” When our prosecutors evaluate a company’s compliance program, as they do in all corporate resolutions, they consider how effectively the program mitigates the company’s most significant risks. For an increasing number of firms, this now includes the risk of misusing AI.

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