Setting New Standards for AI Safety and Security
In a groundbreaking move, President Biden has issued an Executive Order to ensure that the United States leads the way in seizing the potential and managing the risks of artificial intelligence (AI). The Executive Order introduces stringent standards for AI safety and security, protecting privacy, promoting equity, and advancing American leadership.
A Focus on AI Safety and Security
As the capabilities of AI continue to expand, so do the implications for Americans’ safety and security. President Biden’s Executive Order marks a significant step in safeguarding the nation against potential AI risks. Here are the key actions directed by the order:
- Mandatory Sharing of Safety Test Results: The order mandates that developers of the most powerful AI systems must share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government. This ensures that AI systems posing risks to national security, economic security, or public health and safety are thoroughly tested and validated before public release.
- Developing Standards and Tests: Rigorous standards, tools, and tests will be developed to ensure AI systems’ safety, security, and trustworthiness. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will set these standards, with a focus on extensive red-team testing to verify safety.
- Addressing Threats to Critical Infrastructure: The Department of Homeland Security, along with the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, will address AI systems’ threats to critical infrastructure, as well as risks in areas like chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity.
- Preventing Biological Risks: The order establishes strong new standards for biological synthesis screening to protect against the misuse of AI in creating dangerous biological materials.
- Authentication and Cybersecurity: Guidelines for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content will be developed to protect against AI-enabled fraud and deception. An advanced cybersecurity program will be created to find and fix vulnerabilities in critical software.
- National Security Memorandum: A National Security Memorandum will be developed to ensure the safe, ethical, and effective use of AI by the U.S. military and intelligence community.
Protecting Americans’ Privacy and Advancing Equity
AI has the potential to put Americans’ privacy at risk. President Biden’s Executive Order emphasizes the importance of privacy protection and equity. Here are the key actions in this regard:
- Privacy-Preserving Techniques: Federal support will prioritize the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques, including those using AI, to safeguard Americans’ privacy while still benefiting from AI advancements.
- Advancing Privacy Research: Funding and research coordination will promote the adoption of privacy-preserving technologies by federal agencies.
- Commercial Data and Personally Identifiable Information: Agencies will evaluate how commercially available information containing personally identifiable data is used and procure guidelines to protect individuals’ data.
- Evaluation of Privacy-Preserving Techniques: Guidelines for federal agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of privacy-preserving techniques, including those used in AI systems, will be developed.
Ensuring Equity, Civil Rights, and Consumer Protection
AI can lead to discrimination, bias, and other abuses in various sectors. The Executive Order takes additional steps to ensure equity, civil rights, and consumer protection:
- Guidance against Discrimination: Clear guidance will be provided to prevent AI algorithms from exacerbating discrimination in housing, federal benefits programs, and federal contracting.
- Addressing Algorithmic Discrimination: The Department of Justice and Federal civil rights offices will coordinate to combat algorithmic discrimination and investigate and prosecute civil rights violations related to AI.
- Fairness in the Criminal Justice System: Best practices on AI use in the criminal justice system will be developed, focusing on sentencing, risk assessments, and other areas.
- Consumer Protection: The order promotes responsible AI use in healthcare and education, with a focus on protecting consumers and ensuring AI makes Americans’ lives better.
Supporting Workers and Promoting Innovation
AI is changing the workforce, offering both promise and risks. The Executive Order supports workers and innovation:
- Mitigating Harms and Maximizing Benefits: Principles and best practices will be developed to mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers.
- AI’s Labor-Market Impacts: A report will study AI’s labor-market impacts and identify options to support workers facing labor disruptions.
- AI in Education and Healthcare: AI will be used to improve healthcare and education, benefiting workers and consumers.
Promoting Innovation and Competition
The United States already leads in AI innovation, and the Executive Order aims to maintain this position:
- Catalyzing AI Research: AI research will be promoted across the United States, with expanded grants for research in vital areas like healthcare and climate change.
- Supporting Small Developers and Entrepreneurs: Small developers and entrepreneurs will receive technical assistance and resources to compete in the AI ecosystem.
- Enhancing Skilled Immigration: Highly skilled immigrants and nonimmigrants with expertise in critical areas will be encouraged to study, stay, and work in the United States.
Advancing American Leadership Abroad
AI’s challenges and opportunities are global, and the U.S. will collaborate with other nations. The Executive Order focuses on international engagement:
- Collaboration on AI: The State Department and Commerce Department will lead efforts to establish international frameworks for the responsible use of AI.
- AI Standards: AI standards will be developed and implemented with international partners to ensure safety, security, trustworthiness, and interoperability.
- Global Challenges: AI will be harnessed to address global challenges like sustainable development and critical infrastructure protection.
Ensuring Responsible Government Use of AI
AI can enhance government services but also poses risks. The Executive Order emphasizes responsible government use:
- AI Guidance for Agencies: Guidance will be issued for agencies to use AI, focusing on protecting rights, improving AI procurement, and strengthening AI deployment.
- Efficient Contracting: Agencies will acquire AI products and services more efficiently through contracting.
- AI Talent Surge: A government-wide AI talent surge will be initiated to hire AI professionals and provide AI training for employees.
A Comprehensive Approach to AI
As the United States takes bold steps to harness the potential of AI and manage its risks, the Administration will continue to engage with allies and partners worldwide, creating a strong international framework to govern the development and use of AI. The actions directed today are essential in the nation’s approach to responsible innovation, with further collaboration and legislation on the horizon.