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NTIA Solicits Comments on Open-Weight AI Models

Today, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) launched a Request for Comment on the risks, benefits and potential policy related to advanced artificial intelligence (AI) models with widely available model weights – the core component of AI systems.  

These “open-weight” models allow developers to build upon and adapt previous work, broadening AI tools’ availability to small companies, researchers, nonprofits, and individuals. This may accelerate the diffusion of AI’s benefits and the pace of AI safety research, but it may also increase the scale and likelihood of harms from advanced models. 

“AI is an accelerator – it has the potential to make people’s existing capabilities better, faster, and stronger. In the right hands, it carries incredible opportunity, but in the wrong hands, it can pose a threat to public safety. That’s why, under President Biden’s leadership and direction, we’re acting quickly and precisely to keep pace with this rapidly evolving technology to ensure safety, while protecting innovation,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Today, NTIA is inviting public feedback about how widely available access to model weights may impact our society and our national security. This is an important piece of the President’s Executive Order and an early step toward ensuring safety, security, and trust in these systems.” 

President Biden’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence directs NTIA to review the risks and benefits of large AI models with widely available weights and develop policy recommendations to maximize those benefits while mitigating the risks.  

“Open-weight AI models raise important questions around safety challenges, and opportunities for competition and innovation,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “These models can help unleash innovation across communities by making powerful tools accessible, but that same accessibility also poses serious risks. Our Request for Comment will help us chart a policy path to promote both safety and innovation in this important technology.” 

The Executive Order directs NTIA to discuss benefits, risks, and policy choices associated with dual-use foundation models, which are powerful models that can be fine-tuned and used for multiple purposes, with widely available model weights. The Request for Comment asks for public feedback about how making model weights and other model components widely available creates benefits or risks to the broader economy, communities, individuals, and to national security.  

Model weights reflect distillations of knowledge within AI models and govern how those models behave. Using large amounts of data, machine learning algorithms train a model to recognize patterns and learn appropriate responses. As the model learns, the values of its weights adjust over time to reflect its new knowledge. Ultimately, the training process aims to arrive at a set of weights optimized to produce behavior that fits the developer’s goals. If a person has access to a model’s weights, that person does not need to train the model from scratch. Additionally, that person can more easily fine-tune the model or adapt it towards different goals, unlocking new innovations but also potentially removing safeguards. 

The Request for Comment seeks input on a number of issues, including: 

  • The varying levels of openness of AI models;
  • The benefits and risks of making model weights widely available compared to the benefits and risks associated with closed models;
  • Innovation, competition, safety, security, trustworthiness, equity, and national security concerns with making AI model weights more or less open; and
  • The role of the U.S. government in guiding, supporting, or restricting the availability of AI model weights.

Comments are due within 30 days of publication of the Request for Comment in the Federal Register. The responses will help inform a report to the President with NTIA’s findings and policy recommendations.

 

About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration    

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Originally posted at https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2024/02/ntia-solicits-comments-open-weight-ai-models

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