The top prosecutors in all 50 states are urging Congress to investigate how artificial intelligence can be used to exploit children through pornography, and to pass legislation to further protect against it.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate, attorneys general from across the country are calling on federal lawmakers to “create a committee of experts to review the means and methods of AI that could be used to specifically exploit children” and expand existing restrictions on child sexual abuse material specifically to include AI-generated images.
“We are in a race against time to protect our nation’s children from the dangers of AI,” the plaintiffs wrote in the letter, which was shared with The Associated Press in advance. “Indeed, the proverbial walls of the city have already been breached. Now is the time to act.”
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson led the effort to add signers from all fifty states and four U.S. territories to the letter. The Republican, who was elected to his fourth term last year, told the AP last week he hoped federal lawmakers would act on the group’s bipartisan support for legislation on the issue.
“Everyone is focused on everything that divides us,” said Wilson, who brought the coalition together with his colleagues in Mississippi, North Carolina and Oregon. My hope would be that no matter how extreme or opposing the parties and the people on the spectrum, you would think that protecting children from new, innovative and exploitative technologies would be something that even the most diametrically opposed individuals would do. can agree on. – and it looks like they did.”
The Senate has held hearings this year on the potential threats posed by AI-related technologies. In May, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, whose company makes the free chatbot tool ChatGPT, said government intervention will be critical to mitigating the risks posed by increasingly powerful AI systems. Altman proposed the creation of a US or global agency that would license the most powerful AI systems and have the power to “take away that license and make sure safety standards are met.”
While there is no immediate sign that Congress will enact sweeping new AI rules, as European lawmakers are doing, societal concerns have led US agencies to pledge to crack down on harmful AI products that violate existing laws on violate civil rights and consumer protection.
In addition to federal action, Wilson said he encourages his fellow attorneys general to search their own state statutes for potential concerns.
“We started thinking: Are the child exploitation laws on the books? Have the laws kept pace with the newness of this new technology?”
According to Wilson, the dangers posed by AI include creating “deepfake” scenarios — videos and images digitally created or altered using artificial intelligence or machine learning — of a child who has already been abused, or altering the likeness of a real child, for example on a social media photo, so that abuse is depicted.
“Your child has never been attacked, your child has never been exploited, but their likeness is used as if they were,” he said. “However, we’re concerned that our laws don’t address the virtual nature of this because your child hasn’t actually been exploited — although they’re being defamed and certainly their image is being exploited.”
A third possibility, he emphasized, is the fully digital creation of a fictitious child image with the aim of creating pornography.
“The argument would be, ‘well, I’m not harming anyone — in fact, it’s not even a real person,’ but you’re creating demand for the industry that exploits children,” Wilson said.
Some steps have been taken within the technology industry to combat this problem. In February, Meta, as well as adult sites like OnlyFans and Pornhub, began participating in an online tool, called Take It Down, that allows teens to report explicit images and videos of themselves from the Internet. The reporting site works for regular images and AI generated content.
“AI is a great technology, but it is an industry disruptor,” said Wilson. “You have new industries, new technologies that are disrupting everything, and the same goes for the law enforcement community and child protection. The bad guys are always evolving on how to escape the hook of justice, and we need to evolve. with that.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP