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October 30, 2023

White House Issues Executive Order for AI

Ali Azhar

(andrea-izzotti/Shutterstock)

Artificial intelligence has great potential, for promise and peril. Using AI responsibly can help solve some of the most challenging issues around the globe, but it can also be used for societal harm and mass destruction. With its enormous potential for good and bad, it was only a matter of time that a technology as powerful as AI would be regulated.

President Joe Biden unveiled a groundbreaking AI executive that outlines the new standards for AI safety and security, protects the privacy of Americans, advances civil rights, promotes innovation and competition, and supports American leadership around the world.

The order grants the White House greater authority to keep tabs on the development of AI technology in the private sector. The order also mandates companies to submit safety test results and other critical information on how they develop, train, and test AI models to ensure they remain protected from foreign adversaries. New standards for biological synthesis screening will be used to protect against the risks of using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials.

The executive order has come at a time when this is increasing discussions about federal AI policy and regulations. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer continues to host the AI Insight Forums, where members of the industry, AI experts, and civil rights advocates convene to inform Congress’s work on regulating AI. Speaking ahead of the AI Safety Summer 2023, the British Prime Minister also warned of AI dangers and urged greater global cooperation between governments to mitigate the risks.

A key objective of the executive order is to promote equality and civil rights. Federal contractors and landlords are urged to avoid using AI algorithms for discrimination. There has also been a directive to create best practices for an appropriate role for AI in the justice system and create a program to evaluate potentially harmful AI-related healthcare practices.

President Biden has called on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy laws to protect all Americans. This includes accelerating the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques and evaluating how agencies collect and use commercially available data.

(3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock)

There is no doubt that AI is having a major impact on the labor market. On one hand, AI offers greater productivity, but on the other, there is a danger of increased job displacement and workplace surveillance. To protect the rights of workers and invest in workforce training, the Biden-Harris administration has directed the development of best practices to mitigate risk and maximize the benefits of AI for workers. The order also directs actions to produce reports on AI’s potential impact on the labor market and how the federal government can support workers facing labor disruptions.

It is a common belief that regulations hinder growth by creating excessive burdens on the companies. However, one of the key goals of the AI executive order is to ensure that the AI industry continues to innovate and remain competitive. A pilot program for the National AI Research Resource will be launched to provide AI researchers and students access to key AI tools and data. There will also be expanded grants for AI research and development in areas like climate change and healthcare.

To help support the trustworthy deployment and use of AI worldwide, President Biden directs actions to expand multilateral and multi-stakeholder engagements to collaborate on AI and to promote safe and rights-affirming developments and deployments of AI to solve global challenges.

The executive order also highlights the need to accelerate the rapid hiring of AI professionals. This surge in AI talent development and acquisition will be led by the Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Digital Corps,  U.S. Digital Services, and the Presidential Innovation Fellowship.

While the Biden-Harris administration advances this agenda at home, it will also work with its allies to establish a strong international framework for governing AI development and use of AI. AI technology is expected to continue evolving, especially as it transitions from a popular consumer tool to an enterprise-level instrument for growth and innovation. The executive order is a vital step forward to ensure the responsible use of AI, and the Biden-Harris administration will have to continue pushing this agenda.

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