AI czar? Kamala Harris, reporting for duty

A few weeks ago, Google chief Sundar Pichai, in an interview on artificial intelligence, told 60 Minutes that what this country needs is more regulation.

... Pichai said society must quickly adapt with regulation, laws to punish abuse and treaties among nations to make AI safe for the world as well as rules that "Align with human values including morality."

"It's not for a company to decide," Pichai said. 

Well, he got what he wanted.

Kamala Harris is reporting for duty.

According to today's New York Times:

The White House on Thursday announced its first new initiatives aimed at taming the risks of artificial intelligence since a boom in A.I.-powered chatbots has prompted growing calls to regulate the technology.

... The administration ... pledged to release draft guidelines for government agencies to ensure that their use of A.I. safeguards “the American people’s rights and safety,” adding that several A.I. companies had agreed to make their products available for scrutiny in August at a cybersecurity conference.

The announcements came hours before Vice President Kamala Harris and other administration officials were scheduled to meet with the chief executives of GoogleMicrosoftOpenAI, the maker of the popular ChatGPT chatbot, and Anthropic, an A.I. start-up, to discuss the technology. A senior administration official said on Wednesday that the White House planned to impress upon the companies that they had a responsibility to address the risks of new A.I. developments. 

First Harris conquered the border, getting it under control as Biden administration officials insist. Now Harris is stepping forward to conquer AI.

She's Joe Biden's superwoman and her results speak for themselves.

According to this Fox News video interview with Heritage Foundation tech policy research associated Jake Denton:

"This seems to be nothing more than a P.R. stunt, everyone's eyes are on this issue, it seems to be the emerging kind of policy frontier so it's something to elevate her in advance of the 2024 cycle. But this is a very high stakes issue for us to be just rolling the dice on, there's a ton of things to conider here, when it comes to not only electoral issues The ai issue will have a dramatic impact on our society and it's a little bit of a concern that it's under her policy portfolio."

Which is wretched stuff, given that Harris has never written a line of code, knows nothing about computers, and has never worked at a tech firm in Silicon Valley. Her knowledge of tech is as extensive as Hunter Biden's is of energy.

Her crony connections to the industry, though are another matter.

For starters, at least some of Harris's family have already cashed in on Silicon Valley largesse with no knowledge of tech, through a revolving door of board seats at top Silicon Valley firms.

Exhibit A is Meena, her niece, whom I wrote about here:

Harris's niece Meena, 36, is the daughter of her close sister Maya, and something of a gadfly, always looking to strike it rich. That covers a wide field, from selling t-shirts, writing wokester children's books, wallowing in adoring fashion shoots, working in some at least nominal boss positions for Uber, Facebook and Slack, sinecure-ing on some San Francisco city women's commission, serving as an 'advisor' for Kamala Harris (payment unknown), hanging out with celebs, posting "lifestyle" vanity posts on Instagram, and glomming onto a big mishmash of left-wing causes, whichever are most in the news.

Oh, and for kicks, she's vowed to keep annoying the government of India, where she's unpopular. Politico wrote a piece five days ago headlined: "The @meena problem goes global." 

She's a bright, or at least, connected, person, having gone to Stanford where her grandpa taught, and then Harvard Law, according to her Wikipedia page. She's held top positions at top Silicon Valley baronies, most seemingly connected to relatives, which kind of tells you that Silicon Valley might not be all about brains. And like Chelsea Clinton, who also got some fancy positions, presumably because she's such an accomplished renaissance woman, Meena's nevertheless collected remarkably few merit awards.

  But Meena is hardly the only one to feed at the Silicon Valley trough. According to this slightly gushy piece from the New York Times written in 2020:

When Kamala Harris, then San Francisco’s district attorney, was running to become California’s attorney general in 2010, she did not hide her excitement about speaking at Google’s Silicon Valley campus.
“I’ve been wanting to come to the Google campus for a year and a half,” she said. “I’ve been wanting to come because I want these relationships and I want to cultivate them.”
For Ms. Harris, a Bay Area politician, connections to tech have been essential and perhaps inescapable. In past campaigns — her two elections to be attorney general, her successful run for the Senate and her failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination — she relied on Silicon Valley’s tech elite for donations. And her network of family, friends and former political aides has fanned throughout the tech world.
Those close industry ties have coincided with a largely hands-off approach to companies that have come under increasing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world. As California’s attorney general, critics say, Ms. Harris did little to curb the power of tech giants as they gobbled up rivals and muscled into new industries. As a senator, consumer advocacy groups said, she has often moved in lockstep with tech interests.

So while she knows nothing of the industry, let alone artificial intelligence, which is currently the tip of its spear, she does manage to please the industry by doing whatever it wants, drawing in big campaign donations from the tech barons as a result.

Which might just explain Pichai's weird call for more regulation of his company. Perhaps he knew what he was talking about all along and his call for more regulation was really an issued dog whistle, calling for Kamala.

Which doesn't sound too auspicious for whatever it is that supposedly needs to be fixed in the tech industry's artificial intelligence division.

As the Heritage analyst noted, the involvement of Harris in the tech portfolio is part of the big makeover and campaign buildup for Harris, who comes off as an idiot most of the time.

Now she's the AI czar for the Joe Biden administration. What could go wrong?

Image: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr (cropped) // CC BY-SA 2.0


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