Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy addressed what he considers to be the “real” dangers posed by artificial intelligence (AI) during a recent conversation with voters in Iowa.
Ramaswamy was participating in a “Coffee with the Candidates” discussion hosted by the Des Moines-based television news station KCCI when a voter asked Ramaswamy about his views on AI, including how he believes it should be developed and used.
ChatGPT has become one of the most popular AI tools available to the public since its launch in November 2022. An estimated 180.5 million people around the world were using ChatGPT in August, according to Reuters. Users communicate with the chatbot by sending it questions or prompts, to which it quickly sends responses. OpenAI recently released updates that enable users to send visual and audio prompts, which people have been using for a variety of tasks ranging from creating computer code to identifying films based on uploaded screenshots.
Ramaswamy, who, at 38, is the GOP’s youngest presidential candidate, began his response by saying AI is a topic for which he believes “a leader from the next generation” will be “necessary in the next president.”
As AI development continues, Ramaswamy said technology companies developing AI tools will need to act responsibly. “Just like you can’t dump your chemicals, if you’re a chemical company, in somebody else’s river, well if you’re developing an AI algorithm today that has a negative impact on other people, you bear the liability for it,” he said.
To illustrate what he identified as the “real danger” of AI, Ramaswamy used an example involving ChatGPT, the chatbot designed by the AI company OpenAI. “You go to ChatGPT, just try typing it in: How do you fight climate change, or racial injustice? It gives you a factual answer, as though it was converting Fahrenheit to Celsius,” he said. “That’s the real danger of AI, is that people bend the knee to a new master.”
Despite the potential benefits of ChatGPT and other AI tools, many tech leaders are warning about the risks AI poses if its development gets out of hand. Members of the public aren’t sure they can trust AI, either. In the U.S., a majority of Americans have said they are “more concerned than excited” about the uptick in AI use, according to Pew Research Center survey results released in August.
Ramaswamy told Iowa voters he has prior experience with AI. He said he used AI while working at a drug development company he founded.
“I think AI can have a lot of good uses in this country. But there are also real risks,” he said. “The real risk is when it comes to interfacing with people.”
The entrepreneur joined the GOP presidential field earlier this year by embracing his role as a self-described “political outsider.” He received a boost in the polls after he participated in the first GOP presidential debate in August, during which he engaged in several verbal battles with the other candidates.
National polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight and last updated on Friday showed Ramaswamy in third place at 7.2 percent, polling less than 6 percent behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Former President Donald Trump remains the race’s frontrunner with polling averages more than 40 points higher than all other candidates.
Newsweek reached out to Ramaswamy’s campaign by email on Friday for comment.