A close insider to the ongoing discussions revealed that Japan is gravitating towards more lenient regulations surrounding the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) compared to the European Union (EU).
The primary motive behind this inclination is Japan’s desire to leverage AI technology for bolstering economic growth and positioning itself as a front-runner in advanced semiconductor production.
The objective by the end of this year is to formulate an AI approach that will likely align more closely with the stance adopted by the United States, rather than adhering to the rigorous regulations championed by the EU.
The official, who preferred to remain anonymous due to a lack of authorization to engage with the media, conveyed that Japan’s softer approach might undermine the EU’s endeavors to establish its regulations as a global benchmark.
One notable requirement advocated by the EU entails companies divulging copyrighted material used in training AI systems responsible for generating content such as text and graphics.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s industry chief, embarked on a visit to Tokyo this week, aiming to advocate the bloc’s approach to AI regulation while fostering closer collaboration in the realm of semiconductors.
The government official abstained from providing further details regarding specific areas where Japan’s regulations would likely diverge from those of the EU.
Professor Yutaka Matsuo, chair of the government’s AI strategy council and affiliated with The University of Tokyo, characterized the EU’s regulations as excessively stringent, asserting that it is nearly unfeasible to precisely specify copyrighted materials employed in deep learning processes.
Matsuo, who also presides over the Japan Deep Learning Association and serves as an independent director on the board of SoftBank Group, chaired by Masayoshi Son, noted that the EU’s concerns revolve less around promoting innovation and more around assigning accountability to already prominent corporations.
The advancements made in generative AI by companies like OpenAI, supported by Microsoft, have elicited a mixture of anticipation and trepidation due to their potential to revolutionize the business landscape and society at large.
The transformative capabilities of AI render it one among several technologies, including cutting-edge semiconductors and quantum computers, in which the United States and allied industrial democracies find themselves engaged in a race against China for development supremacy.
Breton expressed his concerns, remarking, “There are issues that undoubtedly give rise to apprehension, and I believe these matters should indeed concern any democratic society.”
He emphasized the significance of elucidating the EU’s regulatory approach in collaboration with likeminded partners and friends such as Japan and the United States.
For Japan, AI holds the potential to mitigate the effects of population decline, which has resulted in a shortage of labor.
Furthermore, it could fuel demand for advanced chips, a sector that Rapidus, a government-backed venture, plans to manufacture as part of an industrial policy aimed at reclaiming Japan’s former technological prowess.
Experts contend that Japan’s computational power, as measured by the availability of graphics processing units (GPUs) used for AI training, significantly lags behind that of the United States.
Professor Matsuo underscored this gap, stating, “Even if the number of GPUs in Japan were increased tenfold, it would likely still be inferior to the resources at OpenAI’s disposal.”