In an effort to mitigate the risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI) for consumers, workers, minority groups, and national security, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a new executive order on Monday. The executive order outlines measures aimed at regulating AI development and safeguarding its applications.
The executive order mandates that developers of AI systems posing potential risks to U.S. national security, the economy, public health, or safety must share the results of safety tests with the U.S. government before releasing their AI solutions to the public. This requirement aligns with the Defense Production Act and is designed to ensure that AI technologies undergo rigorous safety assessments and adhere to established standards.
Speaking at the White House, President Biden emphasized the importance of governing AI to harness its potential while preventing misuse. He stated, “To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risk, we need to govern this technology. In the wrong hands, AI can make it easier for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the software that makes our society run.”
The executive order also instructs government agencies to establish standards for AI testing and address associated risks in areas such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity domains.
The move marks the latest step by the Biden administration to set boundaries for AI as the technology advances rapidly and gains popularity in an environment where regulatory frameworks are still evolving. However, the executive order has elicited mixed responses from industry and trade groups.
Bradley Tusk, CEO at Tusk Ventures, welcomed the move but expressed concerns that tech companies might hesitate to share proprietary data with the government due to fears of it being disclosed to competitors. Tusk noted that without a robust enforcement mechanism, adherence to the order’s requirements may be limited.
NetChoice, a national trade association representing major tech platforms, criticized the order as an “AI Red Tape Wishlist” and argued that it could stifle innovation and expand federal government authority over American innovation.
The executive order goes beyond voluntary commitments made earlier this year by leading AI companies such as OpenAI, Alphabet (Google), and Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), which pledged to label AI-generated content for transparency and safety, Reuters news report said.
As part of the executive order, the Commerce Department will develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking to ensure clear labeling of items generated by AI in government communications.
The order also addresses concerns related to intellectual property and AI, directing intellectual property regulators and federal law enforcement agencies to evaluate AI systems for potential copyright violations. This move aims to address disputes over the use of copyrighted works in training generative AI systems.
Furthermore, the Group of Seven (G7) industrial countries is set to establish a code of conduct for companies developing advanced AI systems, reflecting the global nature of AI regulation and oversight.
While the executive order signifies progress in AI regulation, some critics argue that the United States lags behind Europe in addressing AI-related challenges and suggest that policymakers, including those in Congress, need to enact comprehensive laws to safeguard citizens and technological progress.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed his hope of having AI legislation ready in a matter of months, signaling a growing commitment to AI governance at the legislative level.
The executive order also focuses on mitigating AI-related biases and civil rights violations, calling for guidance to landlords, federal benefit programs, and federal contractors to prevent the exacerbation of discrimination through AI algorithms. It also seeks to develop best practices to address potential negative impacts of AI on the workforce, including job displacement, and requires a report on labor market effects.
The executive order marks a significant step towards governing AI and ensuring its responsible development and use in the United States.