Congress Wants Tech Companies to Pay Up for AI Training Data

Do AI firms must pay for the coaching knowledge that powers their generative AI programs? The query is hotly contested in Silicon Valley and in a wave of lawsuits levied towards tech behemoths like Meta, Google, and OpenAI. In Washington, DC, although, there appears to be a rising consensus that the tech giants must cough up.

Today, at a Senate listening to on AI’s impression on journalism, lawmakers from either side of the aisle agreed that OpenAI and others ought to pay media shops for utilizing their work in AI initiatives. “It’s not only morally right,” mentioned Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law that held the listening to. “It’s legally required.”

Josh Hawley, a Republican working with Blumenthal on AI laws, agreed. “It shouldn’t be that just because the biggest companies in the world want to gobble up your data, they should be able to do it,” he mentioned.

Media trade leaders on the listening to in the present day described how AI firms had been imperiling their trade by utilizing their work with out compensation. Curtis LeGeyt, CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Danielle Coffey, CEO of the News Media Alliance, and Roger Lynch, CEO of Condé Nast, all spoke in favor of licensing. (WIRED is owned by Condé Nast.)

Coffey claimed that AI firms “eviscerate the quality content they feed upon,” and Lynch characterised coaching knowledge scraped with out permission as “stolen goods.” Coffey and Lynch additionally each mentioned that they imagine AI firms are infringing on copyright beneath present regulation. Lynch urged lawmakers to make clear that utilizing journalistic content material with out first brokering licensing agreements just isn’t protected by honest use, a authorized doctrine that allows copyright violations beneath sure circumstances.

Common Ground

Senate hearings could be adversarial, however the temper in the present day was largely congenial. The lawmakers and media trade insiders typically applauded every others’ statements. “If Congress could clarify that the use of our content, or other publisher content, for the training and output of AI models is not fair use, then the free market will take care of the rest,” Lynch mentioned at one level. “That seems eminently reasonable to me,” Hawley replied.

Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis was the listening to’s solely discordant voice. He asserted that coaching on knowledge obtained with out cost is, certainly, honest use, and spoke towards obligatory licensing, arguing that it might harm the data ecosystem quite than safeguard it. “I must say that I am offended to see publishers lobby for protectionist legislation, trading on the political capital earned through journalism,” he mentioned, jabbing at his fellow audio system. (Jarvis was additionally topic to the listening to’s solely actual contentious line of questioning, from Republican Marsha Blackburn, who needled Jarvis about whether or not AI is biased towards conservatives and recited an AI-generated poem praising President Biden as proof.)

Outside of the committee room, there may be much less settlement that necessary licensing is important. OpenAI and different AI firms have argued that it’s not viable to license all coaching knowledge, and a few impartial AI specialists agree.