Sunday, July 14, 2024

Raleigh tech CEO says AI needs Southeast regional regulation

An acclaimed artificial intelligence executive in Raleigh says North Carolina should spearhead creation of a multi-state regional compact that would address AI regulation.

Pryon CEO Igor Jablokov urged creation of a regional organization “where we align all the laws in terms of people operating with AI, in education and health care and defense and things of that sort.”

He likens this to the Southeastern Regional Banking Compact, the 1980s agreement that harmonized the regulatory approach of 10 states to cross-border banking operations and ownership. The law is widely credited with helping turn North Carolina into a banking powerhouse because of interstate expansions by NCNB, First Union, Wachovia and BB&T.

The Raleigh CEO made his comments Friday at Business North Carolina’s N.C. Leadership Conference, which attracted more than 100 people including lawmakers, lobbyists and business people.

Many U.S. political and business leaders have expressed concerns about potential negative impacts of AI including labor force reductions, privacy concerns and other reasons. But little consensus has emerged on regulations.

Jablokov says a common regional approach to the regulatory issues surrounding AI would provide a useful tool in dealing with the West Coast tech giants that are quickly gaining dominance in the industry. An individual state has limited ability to challenge Google, Facebook, Amazon and other Big Tech companies, which he criticized as focused on harvesting data with little concern for the public good.

“When you do that, they’re forced to pay attention, because right now, they can divide and conquer,” he said. “But when they see the region working together, in tandem to that vision, they’re going to be forced to conform to that.”

Jablokov is CEO of Pryon, which received a $100 million capital infusion last year led by billionaire investor Thomas Tull’s U.S. Innovative Technology Fund. It marked a record investment for a North Carolina AI company.

In 2011, Jablokov sold his previous company, Yap, to Amazon, which used the company’s technology to develop the Alexa voice-recognition service.

The West Coast giants would“be super annoyed and lobby hard to change it,” Yablokov says, but a regional compact would give the Southeast a bigger voice as the rules for things like data privacy are further developed. A regional AI compact would prompt federal pressure to forestall differing regulations among the states.

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