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President Biden’s AI Executive Order: A Comprehensive Overview

November 3, 2023

On October 30, 2023, President Biden announced a sweeping executive order on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The executive order issued various actions, which include:

New Standards for AI Safety and Security

Companies developing a foundational model–which may pose a risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety–must notify the federal government during training, and must also share their results of all red-team safety tests.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will also implement new standards for red-team testing. The Department of Homeland Security will be tasked with applying these standards set by NIST to critical infrastructure sectors. Finally, the Department of Energy will be tasked with potential AI system’s threats to critical infrastructure, and other serious risks (i.e., chemical, biological, etc.).

New standards pertaining to biological synthesis screening will be developed to protect against the threat of using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials. These standards will be established by agencies that fund life-science projects, as a condition of receiving federal funding.

As it pertains to the use of AI for fraud and deception, new standards and best practices will be developed for detecting AI-generated content, while also authenticating official content. The Department of Commerce is tasked with implementing these new standards and best practices.

Additionally, the executive order reiterates the Biden administration’s focus on AI, with the goal to develop an advanced cybersecurity program to develop AI tools, which would help find and fix any vulnerabilities in critical software.

Finally, the executive order requires the development of a National Security Memorandum which would provide additional actions on AI and Security. This memo would be developed by the National Security Council, in partnership with the White House Chief of Staff.

Protecting Americans’ Privacy

The Executive Order makes clear that in other to protect American’s privacy, Congress must pass bipartisan data privacy legislation. Thus, any proposed legislation must:

  • Prioritize federal support for the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques;
  • Strengthen privacy-preserving research and technologies (i.e., funding a Research Coordination Network);
  • Evaluate how agencies collect and use commercially available information while also strengthening privacy guidance for federal agencies, and
  • Develop useful guidelines for federal agencies to evaluate their privacy-preserving techniques.

Advancing Equity and Civil Rights

The Biden Administration remains focused on advancing equity and civil rights. To build on their current efforts, the Executive Order proposes additional actions. First, to prevent AI from exacerbating discrimination, clear guidance must be provided to landlords, federal benefits programs, and federal contractors. Second, algorithmic discrimination must be addressed through additional training, technical assistance, and coordination between the Department of Justice and federal civil rights offices. Finally, best practices must be developed to ensure fairness throughout the criminal justice system, including parole and probation, pretrial release and detention, etc.

Standing Up for Consumers, Patients, and Students

While AI can provide endless benefits to consumers, it also can provide endless risks if not used correctly. To protect consumers, the executive order directs two actions. First, advance the responsible use of AI in healthcare and the development of affordable life-saving drugs. In the event of unsafe healthcare practices involving AI, the Department of Health and Human Services will establish a reporting mechanism. Second, create resources to support educators utilizing AI-enabled educational tools.

Supporting Workers

While AI may lead to improved productivity, it also may increase surveillance, bias, and job displacement. To avoid these risks, the Executive Order generally directs the development of principles and best practices to mitigate risks and exploit benefits. Additionally, the Executive Order directs the production of a report on the potential impact that AI may have on the labor-market. Where the report identifies workers facing labor disruptions, additional studies and federal support must be examined.

Promoting Innovation and Competition

To ensure America remains a leader in AI innovation and competition, the Executive Order outlines necessary actions to be taken, including:

  • A pilot of the National AI Research Resource (a tool providing AI researchers and students access to key AI resources and data);
  • Expand grants for AI research in areas such as healthcare and climate change;
  • Provide small developers and entrepreneurs access to technical assistance and resources, and
  • Utilize existing authority to expand the ability of highly skilled immigrants and non-immigrants to study, stay, and work in the U.S.

Advancing American Leadership Abroad

The key to AI’s success is the understanding that AI’s challenges and opportunities are global. Accordingly, the Executive Order directs various global actions. First, expanded global engagements to collaborate on AI. For instance, the State Department, in collaboration with the Commerce Department, will establish an international framework(s) to exploit AI’s benefits and manage its risks. Second, the development and implementation of vital AI standards must be accelerated, in partnership with international partners and in standards organizations. Finally, it is necessary to promote the safe and responsible development and deployment of AI stateside and abroad to solve global challenges.

Ensuring Responsible and Effective Government Use of AI

The federal government must use, modernize, and deploy AI responsibly. As such, the executive order requires: (i) the issuance of guidance for federal agencies’ use of AI, (ii) help federal agencies to acquire AI products and services, and (iii) accelerate the rapid hiring of AI professionals within the federal government.

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