President Biden Signs Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

On Monday, October 30th, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in efforts to mitigate risks and lay the framework for the responsible development and use of AI.  

The EO establishes new standards for AI safety, security and protecting Americans’ privacy. AI developers will need to perform safety tests and share those results with the government, as well as make it obvious when content is made using AI.

According to the White House press release, the EO intends to:

  • Require developers of AI systems to share their safety test results, results of all red-team safety tests, with the US Government before companies make them public.
  • Task the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to set standards for red-team testing which the Department of Homeland Security will use to establish an AI Safety and Security Board. 
  • Require agencies that fund life-science projects to establish these NIST standards as a condition in receiving federal funding.
  • Instruct the Department of Energy and Homeland Security to address AI systems’ threats to critical infrastructure, such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity risks.
  • Task the Department of Commerce will develop guidance for AI content authentication, including watermarking AI-generated content, in an effort to protect Americans from fraud and deception.
  • Develop AI tools to find and fix vulnerabilities in critical software, building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing AI Cyber Challenge.
  • Develop a National Security Memorandum on AI and Security by the National Security Council and White House Chief of Staff.  The document will ensure the US military and intelligence communities’ use AI safely, ethically, and effectively in their missions.

The Dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, Ramayya Krishnan, praised the EO stating that  "The commitments on AI safety, security and reliability are the strongest I have seen globally. I look forward to rule making to follow as well as legislation from Congress aligned with the themes highlighted in this order. It is essential for both our economic and national security.”

Ramayya is not alone in supporting the EO. Managing director of the AI Now Institute, Sarah Myers West, also voiced her support and applauded the White House for setting “the tone on the issues that matter most to the public: labor, civil rights, protecting privacy, promoting competition.”

Without safeguards, AI can put Americans’ privacy further at risk. President Biden called on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation providing funding to the National Science Foundation to work on strengthening privacy-preserving research and technologies.

As part of the safeguard, Federal agencies will need to evaluate how private data, including information they procure from data brokers, is collected and used commercially to account for AI risks. Biden called for federal agencies to develop guidelines to protect American’s data, stating that he was “determined to do everything in my power to promote and demand responsible innovation.”

In addition to President Biden’s EO and call on congress, the administration has already published a draft for an AI Bill of Rights to implement a list of actions which include:

  • Accelerating the hiring of AI professionals as part of a government-wide AI talent surge led by the Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Corps and Presidential Innovation Fellowship.
  • Advancing the responsible use of AI in healthcare and creating resources to support educators deploying AI-enabled educational tools.
  • Developing principles and best practices to mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers through labor standards, workplace equity, health, safety and data collection.
  • Issuing guidance for agencies’ use of AI to ensure responsible government implementation of AI while improving AI procurement and strengthening AI deployment. 
  • Promoting a fair, open and competitive AI ecosystem by providing small developers and entrepreneurs access to technical assistance and resources through a pilot of the National AI Research Resource.
  • Providing clear guidance to address algorithmic discrimination and civil rights violations related to AI.

The Biden-Harris administration is not alone in combating the rise of AI. The administration consulted with over 20 countries, including the European Union. Senator Chuck Schumer is leading a push in Congress to introduce the AI legislation, but no formal documentation has been presented yet.

The EO is the latest in a series of orders, legislation and memorandums from the Biden Administration’s ongoing AI Cyber challenge, which focuses on strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity. The complete statement on the EO is available at here.

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