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US government issues executive order for AI regulation

Answering demands for government regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), the White House has announced an executive order regarding the technology’s safe development and use.

user icon Daniel Croft
Tue, 31 Oct 2023
US government issues executive order for AI regulation
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US President Joe Biden has acknowledged that while AI, when used responsibly, has the potential to create opportunities and improve the efficiency, innovation and outcomes of businesses and individuals that adopt it; when used irresponsibly, it could potentially lead to weaponised disinformation, workplace displacement and more.

“Harnessing AI for good and realising its myriad benefits requires mitigating its substantial risks,” said Biden in a White House release.

“This endeavour demands a society-wide effort that includes government, the private sector, academia, and civil society.”

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Addressing this issue, the White House’s new executive order will “advance and govern the development and use of AI in accordance with eight guiding principles and priorities”.

The new order will require organisations to ensure that AI systems are developed and used in a safe and secure way, testing and mitigating the security risks that the technology may create regarding cyber security, biotechnology, critical infrastructure and more.

As part of this, AI developers will be required to share the results of any testing of AI systems with the US government before they share them with the public.

Additionally, the development of AI systems must promote innovative and safe development and use of the technology, protect the interests of its users and the general public, protect civil liberties and privacy rights, and advance civil rights.

The order will also see the government set standards for biological synthesis screening, in an effort to combat the potential for AI to assist in creating bioweapons, a concern raised by the US government earlier this month when it restricted the sale of advanced semiconductors to China.

Guidelines for the watermarking of AI-generated content will also be put in place to address risks of fraud and curb the danger of deepfakes spreading disinformation or publishing fake content under the guise of real people.

Biden has said that the federal government should pave the way for the safe and appropriate use of the technology.

“This leadership is not measured solely by the technological advancements our country makes,” the release continued.

“Effective leadership also means pioneering those systems and safeguards needed to deploy technology responsibly – and building and promoting those safeguards with the rest of the world.

“My administration will engage with international allies and partners in developing a framework to manage AI’s risks, unlock AI’s potential for good, and promote common approaches to shared challenges.”

White House chief of staff Jeff Zients added that Biden said dealing with AI needs to be done at a rapid pace to keep up with the speed at which the technology advances.

“We can’t move at a normal government pace,” Biden reportedly told Zients.

“We have to move as fast, if not faster than the technology itself.”

The executive order follows multiple calls for government and international bodies to regulate AI.

Chief executive of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, Sam Altman, addressed Congress back in May, saying that government regulation would be a necessity to curb the dangers AI creates.

“I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong, and we want to be quite vocal about that; we want to work with the government to prevent that from happening,” said Altman.

“We try to be very clear about what the downside case is and the work that we have to do to mitigate that.”

Similarly, following requests by the Vatican for the United Nations to halt any development of any AI-powered weapons until regulations are put in place, the international body has established a 38-strong advisory council that will report on the opportunities and benefits that AI creates, as well as the risks faced by its adopters and wider society.

“In our challenging times, AI could power extraordinary progress for humanity,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“[However], the potential harms of AI extend to serious concerns over misinformation and disinformation; the entrenching of bias and discrimination; surveillance and invasion of privacy; fraud, and other violations of human rights.”

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