Light Wave

U.S. News

Biden unveils historic Executive Order on AI safety and ethics

By Jake Beardslee · October 30, 2023

In brief…

  • President Biden signed executive order establishing first ever federal AI safety regulations
  • Order creates standards for security, privacy, equity, labor impacts, and more
  • Builds on previous voluntary commitments from tech companies, goes further with binding policies
  • DOJ to develop standards for investigating civil rights violations related to AI
President Biden's new executive order represents the strongest government action on managing risks and benefits of AI through new safety, equity, and innovation policies.  The White House/Wikimedia

On Monday, President Joe Biden signed a landmark executive order representing the strongest government action on AI safety and regulation in history, according to the White House. The wide-ranging order aims to manage the risks and harness the benefits of artificial intelligence through new safety assessments, equity guidelines, research, and workforce development.

“The President, several months ago, directed his team to pull every lever, and that’s what this order does: bringing the power of the federal government to bear in a wide range of areas to manage AI’s risk and harness its benefits,” said a senior administration official on a press call Sunday.

The order creates new safety and security standards for AI, including requiring some companies to share test results with the government and establishing programs to identify vulnerabilities. It calls for protecting consumer privacy through agency evaluation of AI privacy techniques. Equity and civil rights are addressed by directing agencies to avoid discriminatory algorithms and outlining best practices for AI in criminal justice.

Additional key points include directing HHS to evaluate potentially harmful healthcare AI, supporting workers disrupted by AI through labor market research, promoting innovation through expanded research grants, and collaborating with international partners on AI standards.

“The President’s executive order requires a clear guidance must be provided to landlords, federal benefits programs and federal contractors to keep AI algorithms from being used to exacerbate discrimination,” the official said.

The actions build on tech companies’ voluntary AI safety commitments from a July White House meeting. While those were a start, “it is not enough,” the official said, necessitating binding government intervention through the executive order. Some provisions, like new safety rules, must be implemented within 90 days.

The order follows growing public concerns about issues like bias in popular AI generators ChatGPT and DALL-E 2 that went viral this year. It directs DOJ to develop standards for “investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations related to AI.”

With this historic move, the Biden administration aims to concretely regulate AI development for the first time as the technology continues rapidly advancing.