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Google executive thinks 'new legislation' will be needed for AI assistants

A Google executive thinks "new legislation" will be needed to figure out privacy issues with virtual assistants.

Scott Huffman - the company's vice president of engineering for Google Assistant - has admitted there are issues that must be addressed as technology changes, and pointed to the way the world has adapted to the telephone as an example of how things may unfold.

He told CNET: "If you think about Google Home or Alexa, these are really the first devices ever that aren't personal devices. They're really computing devices that live in a shared environment ...

"These things now live in this room with all of us, and we're all users. How does privacy work then? Honestly, I think it will also in the end probably take new legislation, as society figures out how these things fit in.

"You look at things like the telephone; that's been around for a long time. There's a bunch of laws about how you could use a telephone, and what you can do."

Citing an example of wiretapping being illegal without a warrant, Huffman explained that it will be an issue society will continue to figure out.

He added: "So that [rule] was for that generation of technology. With AI, we're going to end up with society thinking through some of the rules of the road."

However, the executive - who has a doctorate in computer science - did backtrack slightly and suggest he doesn't know if a change in laws is the way forward.

He said: "I don't know if it takes legislation or not. I'm not the right person to talk about that."

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