The Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence

In what could go down as a historic moment in technology policy, the Biden-Harris Administration issued a sweeping Executive Order this morning on “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.” This executive order, which spans over 100 pages, covers a wide variety of issues including AI safety, bioweapons risk, national security, cybersecurity, privacy, bias, civil rights, algorithmic discrimination, criminal justice, education, workers’ rights, and research.

Reactions to the Executive Order

The reaction to the Executive Order was quick and overwhelming, with experts from both the public and private sectors weighing in. Merve Hickok, president of the independent nonprofit Center for AI and Digital Policy, expressed her surprise at the broad scope of the Executive Order but stated that she is happy to see it. She commends the US for promoting democratic values and advanced leadership on AI governance. Hickok believes that the Biden administration understands the challenges of AI and calls for bipartisan legislation from Congress, making the Executive Order one part of a multi-pronged approach in the right direction.

Many others have also shared positive takes on various aspects of the Executive Order. Jack Clark, co-founder of Anthropic, emphasized the importance of testing and evaluating AI systems, stating that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Gary Marcus, author and critic who testified about AI regulation before the Senate, praised the fact that the US government is taking the risks of AI seriously. However, Marcus cautions that the effectiveness of the Executive Order depends on the exact wording, enforcement, and binding nature of its provisions.

Not everyone is fully supportive of the Executive Order. Adam Thierer, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, expressed concerns about the broad nature of the order, suggesting that heavy-handed administrative meddling in AI markets could undermine America’s global competitiveness. While appreciating the whole-of-government approach, Thierer warns against an overly ambitious and potentially over-zealous AI policy.

Biden’s Forward-Leaning Stance on AI

Despite the differing opinions, the Executive Order reflects the Biden Administration’s effort to take a forward-leaning stance on shaping the evolution of AI. According to the Associated Press, AI has been a source of deep personal interest for Biden, recognizing its potential impact on the economy and national security. White House chief of staff Jeff Zients revealed that Biden has urged his staff to move with urgency on the issue, emphasizing the need to keep pace with technology itself.

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