Cybersecurity & Tech

The Cyberlaw Podcast: Rohrschach AI

Stewart Baker
Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 10:24 AM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The OpenAI corporate drama came to a sudden end last week. So sudden, in fact, that the pundits never quite figured out What It All Means. Jim Dempsey and Michael Nelson take us through some of the possibilities. It was all about AI accelerationists v. decelerationists. Or it was all about effective altruism. Or maybe it was Sam Altman’s slippery ambition. Or perhaps a new AI breakthrough – a model that can actually do more math than the average American law student. The one thing that seems clear is that the winners include Sam Altman and Microsoft, while the losers include illusions about using corporate governance to engage in AI governance.

The Google antitrust trial is over – kind of. Michael Weiner tells us that all the testimony and evidence has been gathered on whether Google is monopolizing search, but briefs and argument will take months more – followed by years more fighting about remedy if Google is found to have violated the antitrust laws. He sums up the issues in dispute and makes a bold prediction about the outcome, all in about ten minutes.

Returning to AI, Jim and Michael Nelson dissect the latest position statement from Germany, France, and Italy. They see it as a repudiation of the increasingly kludgey AI Act pinballing its way through Brussels, and a big step in the direction of the “light touch” AI regulation that is mostly being adopted elsewhere around the globe. I suggest that the AI Act be redesignated the OBE Act in recognition of how thoroughly and frequently it’s been overtaken by events.

Meanwhile, cyberwar is posing an increasing threat to civil aviation. Michael Ellis covers the surprising ways in which GPS spoofing has begun to render even redundant air navigation tools unreliable. Iran and Israel come in for scrutiny. And it won’t be long before Russia and Ukraine develop similarly disruptive drone and counterdrone technology. It turns out, Michael Ellis reports, that Russia is likely ahead of the U.S. in this war-changing technology. 

Jim brings us up to date on the latest cybersecurity amendments from New York’s department of financial services. On the whole, they look incremental and mostly sensible.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is digging deep into his Golden Oldies collection, sending a letter to the White House expressing shock to have discovered a law enforcement data collection that the New York Times (and the rest of us) discovered in 2013. The program in question allows law enforcement to get call data but not content from AT&T with a subpoena. The only surprise is that AT&T has kept this data for much more than the industry-standard two or three years and that federal funds have helped pay for the storage.

Michael Nelson, on his way to India for cyber policy talks, touts that nation’s creative approach to the field, as highlighted in Carnegie’s series on India and technology. He’s less impressed by the UK’s enthusiasm for massive new legislative initiatives on technology. I think this is Prime Minister Rishi Sunak trying to show that Brexit really did give the UK new running room to the right of Brussels on data protection and law enforcement authority.

Download 483rd Episode (mp3)

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Stewart A. Baker is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He returned to the firm following 3½ years at the Department of Homeland Security as its first Assistant Secretary for Policy. He earlier served as general counsel of the National Security Agency.

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