Government’s AI Guidelines: Will Regulations Be Left up to Voluntary Efforts by Companies?

Negative aspects of generative artificial intelligence, such as the risk of misuse for criminal purposes and the possibility of copyright infringements, cannot be overlooked. Appropriate regulations must be implemented urgently.

The government has released a draft outline of guidelines for business operators regarding the development and use of AI technology. It will finalize the guidelines by the end of this year after hearing the opinions of industry associations and other entities.

Although other countries are leading the development of AI, recently in Japan, major domestic telecommunications companies and electronics manufacturers have been accelerating efforts to develop AI systems capable of generating natural conversations in Japanese.

In addition, service and manufacturing industries have increasingly been using AI to create product advertising materials and analyze consumption trends, among other purposes. They apparently hope to improve work efficiency and promote sales using AI tools.

However, focusing solely on convenience could cause disruptions in society.

The government’s draft outline calls for consideration of a requirement for AI developers to disclose the data, such as images and texts, used to train their AI systems. The outline also proposes the creation of a system that will allow copyright holders to stop their work from being used to train AI models.

In Japan, copyrighted works can currently be used to train AI tools without the consent of copyright holders. It is unclear what copyrighted works have been used to train AI systems that generate images and texts. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to say that human-created works have been protected.

Disclosing the data used to train AI systems is likely to be effective in preventing copyrighted works from being imitated easily.

The draft outline also proposes consideration of a rule to make it mandatory for companies to clearly state when AI technology has been used to create a product. Such a rule is intended to help people distinguish copyrighted works from AI creations.

Similar ideas have been drawn from AI regulations in Western countries.

In June, the European Union, which places importance on copyright protection, introduced rules requiring companies to publicly disclose cases in which copyrighted works have been used to train AI models. The EU has also established regulations to require disclosures for AI-generated content.

In the United States, the Senate and major tech companies shared the view that legal regulations for AI were needed and discussions on legislation have begun.

In contrast, Japan simply wants industries to self-regulate in the field of AI. It is hard to understand the government’s attitude of turning a blind eye to the harmful effects of artificial intelligence.

It is reasonable for the government to reflect on criticism that arose when manually processed COVID-19 benefits resulted in delayed payments. However, it is not reasonable for the government to attempt to recover lost ground in its “digital defeat” by focusing on AI. There are other areas where digitization is urgently needed, such as systems to improve coordination between central government entities and local governments.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 16, 2023)