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Biden issues executive order to enhance government AI risk monitoring

Prior White House AI efforts faced criticism, but the new order will empower multiple agencies to influence the market.
Biden issues executive order to enhance government AI risk monitoring
Posted at 4:19 AM, Oct 30, 2023

U.S. President Joe Biden has issued a comprehensive executive order regulating federal agencies' use of artificial intelligence, a significant move to address the risks of AI.

According to a senior administration official, the order would reshape AI usage in the federal government, impacting areas like health care, education, trade, housing and more.

“President Biden believes that we have an obligation to harness the power of AI for good while protecting people from potentially profound risks. In response to the President's leadership on the subject, 15 major American technology companies have begun to implement voluntary commitments to be sure that AI technology is safe, secure and trustworthy before releasing it to the public. That is not enough, however," a senior administration official said.

Which is why the White House says the order will mandate developers of advanced AI systems to disclose safety test results and essential data, create safety standards and tools, protect against AI-enabled fraud, establish cybersecurity measures, and issue a National Security Memorandum for further AI security actions.

The executive order will require developers to share safety test results with the government through the Defense Production Act, set standards for red team testing, and direct the Department of Commerce to craft guidance to help authenticate content and pursue fixes to vulnerabilities in critical software.

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“President Biden is rolling out the strongest set of actions any government in the world has ever taken on AI safety, security and trust. It’s the next step in an aggressive strategy to do everything on all fronts to harness the benefits of AI and mitigate the risks,” said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed.

Although the order is extensive, its objectives include safeguarding Americans' privacy through the advancement of privacy-preserving techniques, the enhancement of research and technology, the evaluation of data collection methods, guidance provision to various entities, tackling algorithmic discrimination, ensuring fairness within the criminal justice system, and crafting AI best practices for workers.

The order directs coordination for best practices to investigate civil rights violations related to AI and develop best practices for its use in the criminal justice system, and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a safety program when it comes to AI in health care. It also requires an examination of AI’s potential impact on the labor market.

While prior White House initiatives aimed at addressing AI have faced criticism, the new order will empower numerous agencies to exert influence in the market. Despite congressional attempts to craft legislation to address AI risks, no comprehensive measures have been introduced thus far, but the order renews calls on Congress to pass legislation on data privacy.

"The President is reiterating his continued call to Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation, protect all Americans, especially kids," said the senior administration official. "The President is not just waiting for Congress to act. With this order, he is directing the accelerated development and use of cutting edge privacy-preserving technologies for the National Science Foundation and other agencies."

Additionally, the administration lays out goals for working with international partners and efforts to establish an international framework, with officials saying they’ve had conversations with dozens of countries. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to speak at an AI summit in the United Kingdom this week.

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