Executive Order outlines new rules, regulations for AI use

October 30, 2023

President Joe Biden has launched an executive order on artificial intelligence that addresses tech-driven issues such as housing discrimination, cybersecurity and data privacy. The order stresses the need for more guidance and regulation for the rapidly evolving technology. It only affects federal agencies, but state and local leaders are also setting guidelines as well.

“AI can help government deliver better results for the American people. It can expand agencies’ capacity to regulate, govern, and disburse benefits, and it can cut costs and enhance the security of government systems,” the White House said in a statement published Monday. “However, use of AI can pose risks, such as discrimination and unsafe decisions.”

The order requires federal agencies to both deploy AI and guard against its possible bias. It also requires the developers of the largest AI models to follow new safety guidelines, and it creates government and industry standards to discern AI-generated content.

In addition, the order:

  • Directs each federal agency to create the position of a chief AI officer, with a memo from the Office of Budget Management to follow, outlining each federal AI officer’s responsibilities.
  • Directs federal agencies to use their existing authority to prevent discrimination in areas such as housing, education and employment.
  • Directs federal agencies to set guidelines on how they collect, use and share personal information obtained from data brokers. Agencies are also encouraged to adopt stronger privacy protections.
  • Forms task forces to tackle issues such as boosting the federal AI workforce and planning for responsible AI deployment in healthcare.
  • Requires federal enforcement agencies such as the Department of Justice to produce a playbook for investigating and prosecuting cases of AI-fueled civil rights violations.

Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, praised the order and said government contracts can often set standards for the tech industry as a whole. However, the order does not address consumer data privacy, which would need to come from Capitol Hill, she said.

“We still need Congress to pass a comprehensive privacy law to put data minimization provisions in place,” Fitzgerald said. “Without data minimization rules, the AI arms race is going to continue to fuel this bottomless appetite for personal data.”

Critics said some items still need to be addressed and cautioned against attempting to regulate a technology that still has many unknowns.

Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which is backed by Google, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech firms, said there were gaps in the order. He pointed to developing industry standards to handle challenges, such as AI being used to design bioweapons and identifying AI-generated media.

“Policymakers often forget that the reason industry hasn’t already adopted certain solutions is because the solution doesn’t yet exist,” Castro said.

All levels of government have been working to understand how to use AI safely and effectively. For example, every federal agency is now required to track and make public how they use AI technology. Additionally, New York City has released a 51-page Artificial Action Plan that will help develop a framework for city agencies to carefully evaluate AI tools and risks. 

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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