The spring 2024 issue of the prestigious journal National Affairs features an article by Dean Woodley Ball, board member of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), on artificial intelligence (AI). Mr. Ball urges a halt to early momentum for excessive governmental regulation of artificial intelligence—and that we maintain a sense of “hope” about AI.

Against the many academics, journalists, policymakers, and even AI researchers who he says are advocating, in essence, a rush to regulation before the European Union and China do it first and thereby shape the industry, he says the need is not in fact urgent: “AI capabilities may be expanding quickly, but … not at a rate that would justify an emergency response.” There is also a danger that rushed regulation “will drastically limit or perhaps even outlaw future progress in this profoundly promising field.”

In “How to Regulate Artificial Intelligence,” Mr. Ball stresses that a general-purpose technology whose long-term applications—like those of the printing press, the electric motor, and the internet when they were invented—are not known. Major examples of the internet’s eventual uses, not predictable at an early stage around 1990, are “bloggers … social-media gurus, and gig-working Uber drivers.”

We must see much more of AI’s actual uses as they emerge—its “diffusion”—to meaningfully “develop new norms related to its use” and “learn where the weak spots are that would benefit from new laws.” Only then should we start attempting general regulation.

Government can, though, helpfully undertake some narrower regulation much sooner. One example: It can help to develop “robust standards,” which AI now lacks, for “evaluating model performance, reliability, and safety.” These could be required in some “high-risk settings” such as medicine and “incentivized elsewhere.”

Mr. Ball, manager of the Hoover Institution’s State and Local Governance Initiative and a 2014 graduate of Hamilton College, also issued a plea that we adopt a hopeful, not just anxious, attitude toward artificial intelligence: “Just as the possibilities for misuse are innumerable, so too is the potential for AI to bring about a profoundly richer world for ourselves and our children.”