The White House wants feedback on keeping AI private or open-source

The White House on Wednesday said it wants comment from the public on whether AI systems should be kept private or made open-source.

The debate over whether to open up public access to AI development has evolved along with the capabilities of computerized AI models that can generate text, images and even video. The White House’s fact-gathering is part of an executive order signed in October of 2023 that intends to balance the needs of AI companies with the rights and security needs of consumers and the nation.

AI companies themselves are split over the best path forward. Some, like Facebook parent Meta and IBM, endorse an open approach that would give researchers and commercial companies better access. Others, including Google, warn of the security risks of posting too much of the inner workings of AI on the internet, saying such moves could be “irreversible” in a field that is moving at breakneck pace and already prompting ethics and misinformation concerns.

Google has nonetheless released less-powerful open versions of its Gemini chatbot and called for a “nuanced, collaborative approach to risks and benefits” in the space.

“One piece of encouraging news is that it’s clear to the experts that this is not a binary issue. There are gradients of openness,” said Alan Davidson, an administrator of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The department has until July to synthesize feedback from the public and experts, after which it will present recommendations to the president.