6. Invest in research. For all these approaches to work at scale, we’ll require long-term engagement, starting now. My philanthropic group is working to help create free, open-source testing frameworks for many AI trust and safety groups. Researchers, the government, and civil society will also need increased access to critical platform data. One promising bill is the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, which would, for example, require platforms to comply with data requests from projects approved by the National Science Foundation.
With a concerted effort from companies, regulators, and Congress, we can adopt these proposals in the coming year, in time to make a difference. My worry is that everyone benefits from favorable mis- or disinformation to varying degrees: our citizens are amused by such content, our political leaders may campaign with it, and the media garners traffic by covering sensationalist examples. The existing incentive structures will make misinformation hard to eliminate.
Social media platforms need to fundamentally rethink their design for the age of AI, especially as democracies face a historic test worldwide. It’s clear to me the future will be one of many decentralized online spaces that cater to every interest, reflect the views of real humans (not bots), and focus on concrete community concerns. But until that day comes, setting these guardrails in place will help ensure that platforms maintain a healthy standard of discourse and do not let opaque, engagement-driven algorithms allow AI-enabled election content to run rampant.
Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011. He is currently cofounder of Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative that bets early on exceptional people making the world better, applying science and technology, and bringing people together across fields