Biden issues expansive executive order on the development and usage of artificial intelligence

October 31, 2023

President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed concern and optimism about the rapid acceleration of the development and usage of artificial intelligence in myriad applications and aspects of society.

With that in mind, Biden on Monday signed a broadly expansive new executive order that purports to guide and regulate the continuing development and usage of AI technology on numerous different fronts, according to The Hill.

The intent of the order is to try to fully exploit the many positive benefits of AI while guarding against its misuse and protecting individuals and entities from the potential harm that it can cause.

Biden's executive order on AI

"My Administration places the highest urgency on governing the development and use of AI safely and responsibly, and is therefore advancing a coordinated, Federal Government-wide approach to doing so," President Biden said in the executive order. "The rapid speed at which AI capabilities are advancing compels the United States to lead in this moment for the sake of our security, economy, and society."

The order lays out "eight guiding principles and priorities" for the administration that various government agencies are expected to adhere to "while, as feasible, taking into account the views of other agencies, industry, members of academia, civil society, labor unions, international allies and partners, and other relevant organizations."

That includes ensuring that AI is "safe and secure" for everybody; promoting "responsible innovation, competition, and collaboration;" guiding "responsible development" with an eye toward "supporting American workers;" and requiring that AI policies be "consistent" with the administration's agenda on "advancing equity and civil rights."

The order also seeks to protect American citizens and consumers as they increasingly interact with AI in their daily lives, with particular attention paid to protecting "privacy and civil liberties." It further aims to "manage the risks" of government usage of AI while establishing a leading role for America and the U.S. government in all aspects of the future development and usage of AI.

Summarizing the goals and impact of Biden's AI order

A White House "fact sheet" summarized some of the main highlights of the "landmark" executive order and how they fit within the administration's broader "comprehensive strategy" on the development and use of artificial intelligence.

In terms of safety and security, that includes requiring AI developers to share relevant sensitive information with the federal government, establishing national standards and tests, and protecting Americans from a variety of potential risks, including engineered biological materials, cybersecurity, national security, and consumer fraud.

The order also aims to protect the privacy of Americans and their personal information by regulating how that information can be used by AI, and to guard against the misuse of AI in terms of algorithmic discrimination and the violation of civil rights, especially in the criminal justice system.

It also seeks to establish protections for consumers, healthcare patients, students, and workers, with particular attention paid to guarding against worker displacement, or workers being replaced by AI.

On top of all of that, President Biden's order intends to promote competition and innovation in the field of AI while ensuring that America plays a leading role in that regard as well as that the federal government's use of AI is done in a "responsible and effective" manner, primarily through the establishment of a White House AI Council comprised of Cabinet-level officials and other relevant agency and department officials.

Still needs Congress to act on regulating AI development and usage

In a speech at the White House on Monday, after which President Biden signed the sweeping AI executive order, he claimed that it was "the most significant action any government anywhere in the world has ever taken on AI safety, security, and trust."

Even as he touted the seemingly broad reach of the order, Biden nonetheless also acknowledged its limitations as he called upon Congress to take legislative action on the issue of the rapid development and increased usage of artificial intelligence.

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