Biden Administration issues Executive Order on AI

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President Biden this morning introduced an Executive Order (EO) aimed at managing the risks associated with AI.

According to the White House, this EO “establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more.”

The Executive Order outlined several standards and best practices to be created to ensure safety and security, including:  

  • Requiring developers of AI systems to share safety test results with the government
  • Establishing standards, tools, and tests to ensure safety, security, and trustworthiness of AI systems
  • Making new standards for biological synthesis screening to prevent AI from being used to create dangerous biological materials
  • Creating guidance and best practices for detecting AI-generated content
  • Setting up a security program to develop tools that find and fix vulnerabilities using AI
  • Developing a National Security Memorandum to guide the direction of further actions on AI and security

In the EO, President Biden went on to further address how to protect the privacy of American citizens, as AI makes it much easier to extract and exploit personal data. He is calling on Congress to pass data privacy legislation that addresses these concerns. He also wants there to be more of a focus on researching privacy-preserving technologies. He has established and is funding a Research Coordination Network to facilitate this, and has directed the National Science Foundation to work closely with the network.

The EO also says the White House will evaluate how government agencies collect and use information so that it can strengthen its privacy guidance for those agencies. 

Another component of the initiative is to advance equity and civil rights through AI. “Irresponsible uses of AI can lead to and deepen discrimination, bias, and other abuses in justice, healthcare, and housing,” the EO states. 

To address concerns, the White House will provide clear guidance to landlords, Federal benefits programs, and federal contractors in order to stop AI algorithms from being used to discriminate, as well as set best practices for investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations that have come about as a result of those algorithms and AI. 

The EO also specifies establishing best practices on how the criminal justice system uses AI in sentencing, parole and probation, pretrial release and detention, risk assessments, surveillance, crime forecasting and predictive policing, and forensic analysis.

President Biden also wants to ensure fairness to consumers, patients, and students. It will focus on advancing responsible AI in healthcare, and will establish a safety program to receive reports of unsafe healthcare practices that involve AI. To benefit education, it will create resources that support educators who are using AI-powered educational tools.

To support workers, the Biden/Harris administration aims to create best practices that will address job displacement, labor standards, data collection, and workplace equity, health, and safety. It will be producing a report on the potential impacts on the labor market so that it can take action. 

The administration also hopes to promote innovation and competition. “America already leads in AI innovation—more AI startups raised first-time capital in the United States last year than in the next seven countries combined. The Executive Order ensures that we continue to lead the way in innovation and competition,” the Biden/Harris administration wrote in the EO.

It will create a tool that provides access to AI resources and data to AI researchers, provide small startups and entrepreneurs technical assistance in commercializing AI breakthroughs, and modernize visa criteria, interviews, and reviews to expand the abilities of skilled immigrants working with this technology. 

The second to last action is to advance American leadership in AI. “The Biden-Harris Administration will continue working with other nations to support safe, secure, and trustworthy deployment and use of AI worldwide,” the EO states. For example, the State Department and Commerce Department will be working to establish an international framework on AI, and the Vice President will be speaking at the UK Summit on AI Safety later this week. 

The final section of the Executive Order relates to responsible use of AI in the government. The administration will issue guidance to agencies for working with AI, help them acquire AI products and services, and accelerate hiring of AI professionals in the government. 

Several AI experts have weighed in on the new executive order. Ian Swanson, CEO of Protect AI and former head of AI at Amazon said: “We firmly believe in the need to protect AI equivalent to the immense value it can deliver. In order to build and ship AI that is secure and trusted, organizations must rigorously test (“red team”) their AI and understand the total composition of elements used to create that AI.”

Nadia Gonzalez, chief marketing officer at Scibids, a company that combines AI and advertising campaigns, believes that the Executive Order is encouraging. It signals that the White House is taking AI seriously and is “moving us away from the patchwork approach that has so far occurred at a state-by-state level,” she said. “AI has the potential to drastically improve how governments operate, protect privacy at large, and promote innovation, but care must be taken to ensure that the regulations go far enough.”

Michael Berthold, CEO of data analysis company KNIME, added: “This executive order from the Biden administration – while directed at federal organizations – follows similar plans by other countries and the EU and is an important step towards ensuring responsible AI use. It will force many organizations to reevaluate their own processes and how they ethically leverage the technology.”

 

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