Accountable Tech, AI Now, EPIC Release Zero Trust AI Governance Framework

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2023

Ahead of DEF CON 31, Civil Society Leaders in Tech Accountability, AI Policy, and Privacy Offer an Antidote to Self-Regulation

With Big Tech jockeying to secure a new era of self-regulation amid the AI arms race, leading civil society organizations Accountable Tech, AI Now Institute, and EPIC jointly released a new “Zero Trust AI Governance” framework Thursday, which offers policymakers a robust and enforceable roadmap for addressing the urgent societal risks posed by these technologies.

The release comes the day before the hacker convention DEF CON 31 is set to host the world’s largest ever AI “red teaming” event – where industry leaders have agreed to subject their models to public evaluation at the urging of the White House – and in advance of an autumn in which AI accountability is expected to take center stage in Washington.

The framework’s proposals are broadly organized by three overarching principles:

  1. Time is of the essence – start by vigorously enforcing existing laws.
  2. Bold, easily administrable, bright-line rules are necessary.
  3. At each phase of the AI system lifecycle, the burden should be on companies to prove their systems are not harmful.

“It’s time to dispel the fiction that AI is so uniquely complex, transformational, and fast-evolving that it cannot be regulated, and we should entrust Big Tech to write their own rules,” said Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of Accountable Tech. “To the contrary, it is precisely because these opaque systems being rushed to market could unleash such monumental societal impacts that we must move swiftly toward Zero Trust AI Governance.”

“Companies are pushing AI systems into wide commercial use before they’re ready, and the public bears the burden. We need to learn from the past decade of tech-enabled crises: voluntary commitments are no substitute for enforceable regulation.” said Sarah Myers West, managing director of the AI Now Institute. “We need structural interventions that change the incentive structure, mitigating toxic dynamics in the AI arms race before it causes systemic harm.”

“The harms from recklessly implemented AI are happening right now and need to be addressed.” said Ben Winters, senior counsel at EPIC. “The privacy violations, misinformation, and harassment fueled by AI urgently require strong privacy, antirust, and anti-discrimination interventions by the government.”


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