New ICFG Report Showcases how Compute Governance can De-risk Advanced AI Development

Brussels, Belgium – 2024/06/06. Today the International Center for Future Generations (ICFG), an independent think-and-do tank based in Brussels, releases a new report underscoring the critical role that the governance of computational power (known as ‘compute’) could take in mitigating the risks associated with advanced AI.

“When it comes to developing the next generation of AI systems, all the leading companies are betting on compute to push them over the edge, so the race is on to secure as much of it as they can,” said Daan Juijn, Emerging Technology Foresight Analyst at ICFG. “For the next five years, compute is expected to drive exponential progress in AI – and that’s why focusing governance efforts on this hardware is so critical.”

This report arrives at a crucial moment as the capabilities of AI systems continue to accelerate, driven by unprecedented increases in computing power.

The training of contemporary AI models now involves billions of times more mathematical operations compared to state-of-the-art systems from 2010. This trend shows no sign of stopping. 

AI companies are significantly increasing their compute budgets, which could lead to breakthroughs in autonomous systems and yield productivity gains capable of rejuvenating European economies. However, these advancements also pose new risks, including the potential for widespread cyber-attacks and large-scale accidents, as investments in capabilities continue to far outstrip investment in safety measures.

“Even though the EU’s AI Act is a major step, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels – regulation alone won’t make the EU competitive,” said Max Reddel, ICFG’s Advanced Artificial Intelligence Program Lead. “The eight EuroHPC supercomputers house some 32,000 specialised AI chips. Microsoft is targeting 1.8 million AI chips by the end of 2024. That’s roughly a 100x difference in AI compute resources.”

In response to these challenges, ICFG provides five key policy recommendations aimed at strengthening future-proofing the EU’s AI efforts:

  1. Strategic Allocation of EU Compute Resources: The European High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) Joint Undertaking should prioritise compute-intensive research for understanding and controlling advanced AI models and developing specialised AI systems to address societal challenges.
  2. Extension of the AI Act’s GPAI Regulation: The European Commission should prepare the addition of a third tier to the AI Act’s GPAI regulation to address systemic risks posed by next-generation AI models, including establishing a compute threshold and requirements to mitigate dangerous capabilities during training.
  3. Compute-Based Enforcement Scaling and Prioritization: The new EU AI Office should align its enforcement efforts with compute trends by prioritising evaluation of models with the largest compute budgets and projecting future capacity requirements.
  4. Establishment of an EU AI Foresight Unit: Create a dedicated unit within the AI Office to monitor AI market and technology evolution, enabling better anticipation of future training compute budgets and accompanying risks – notably a missing feature at this stage.
  5. Implementation of a Multilateral Compute Oversight System: The European Commission should initiate international dialogues to develop a multilateral compute oversight system, starting with a bilateral agreement between the EU and the US before potentially expanding to other G7 countries.

The report stresses the urgency for robust measures to harness compute for effective AI governance, particularly in light of the rapid pace of AI advancements. ICFG’s recommendations aim to future-proof EU efforts and ensure that the benefits of advanced AI can be realised without compromising public safety.

ICFG is dedicated to advancing public policy for emerging technologies, including advanced AI, biotechnology, neurotechnology, quantum computing, and climate interventions. This report is part of a series of State of Play reports on advanced AI scheduled to be released throughout 2024.

Read the full report here

For more information, please contact:

Rowan Emslie: Head of Communications & Public Affairs

International Center for Future Generations 

Avenues des Arts 44, Brussels 1040, BELGIUM

About ICFG

The International Center for Future Generations (ICFG) is an independent think-and-do tank dedicated to shaping a future where decision-makers anticipate and responsibly govern the societal impacts of rapid technological change, ensuring that emerging technologies are harnessed to serve the best interests of humanity.

Our experts supply rigorous, independent, policy-oriented research and analysis that connects the dots between the frontiers of emerging technology development and the principles of good governance. Learn more here.

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