An executive order from the Biden administration could compel cloud computing companies to report excess power usage to the U.S. government, Semafor reported on Sept. 27.
Based on statements from anonymous sources, the expected order will require cloud computing companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon to disclose when a customer rents a certain amount of computing power.
Semafor noted that this reporting model involves treating computational power as a national resource. It also drew comparisons to other existing practices, such as know-your-customer policies that require banks and financial services to monitor and report transactions above a certain limit (and, in the U.S., cash transactions above $10,000).
The upcoming rules are reportedly meant to allow the U.S. government to determine when certain actors, including foreign companies, are using computer power to develop artificial intelligence (AI) projects that could pose a security threat.
Anticipated rules make few distinctions
Although the policy is intended to control AI development, Semafor noted that non-AI applications including video game development and Bitcoin mining similarly require large amounts of resources.
The quantity-based approach to usage monitoring could also fail to make distinctions within AI development and could overlook certain applications. The reporting noted that, although large language models (LLMs) currently require extensive computational power, the amount of power needed could decrease in the future. Furthermore, some AI tools, such as facial recognition algorithms, already require minimal computational power.
Sources told Semafor that the order is not finalized and may change. Furthermore, if the executive order comes into effect, it will not immediately introduce reporting requirements. Rather, it would likely task the U.S. Department of Commerce with creating rules that would in turn require companies to report the relevant information.