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Biden’s New Executive Order Is a Commendable First Step In Regulating AI

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Biden issued a new executive order with the goal of establishing standards for AI safety and security to protect consumers and workers. Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement in response:“Consumers and workers deserve guardrails that will protect the public interest as AI continues to be developed and utilized in new contexts. Today’s executive order is a vital step by the Biden administration to begin the long process of regulating rapidly advancing AI technology – but it’s only a first step.“The EO appears to be both sweeping and specific, covering the vast implications of AI for the government and society and directing agencies to pursue a long list of specific policies and principles.“While we will need to review the details of the EO, we are particularly pleased to see: protection against algorithmic racism; requirements for AI-generated content to be properly labeled; affirmative duties on companies to test the safety of their products; a focus on the potentially catastrophic uses of AI; and an emphasis on ensuring AI does not entrench or create monopolies. “Along with establishing a framework for the government’s use of AI, the EO recognizes the power of the government to establish norms and standards as a major purchaser of technology. That’s an important policy lever.“This EO builds on the White House’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and the administration’s important move last week to ensure its trade policy does not preempt AI and technology-related policymaking. “However, as much as the White House can do on its own, those measures are no substitute for agency regulation and legislative action. Preventing the foreseeable and unforeseeable threats from AI requires agencies and Congress take the baton from the White House and act now to shape the future of AI – rather than letting a handful of corporations determine our future, at potentially great peril.” Public Citizen has been a consistent leader in the push to regulate AI technology. The organization recently petitioned the FEC for a new rule banning the use of political deepfakes in election ads, which the agency is considering. Last month, the organization also published a report on the dangers of human-like AI and a list of recommendations for regulating generative AI.