Unpacking the President’s AI Executive Order


The Gist

  • Safety and governance. President Biden’s AI executive order sets stringent safety and equity standards for emerging technology.
  • International AI unity. The Bletchley Declaration signals a global consensus, with 28 countries uniting for responsible AI development.
  • Ethical innovation drive. The new executive order aims to ensure AI innovation is matched with strong ethical practices and security measures.

On Monday, Oct. 31, President Biden signed a sweeping executive order designed to “establish new standards for AI safety and security, protect Americans’ privacy, advance equity and civil rights, stand up for consumers and workers, promote innovation and competition, and advance American leadership around the world.”

President Biden Signing the AI Executive Order

In remarks from the White House East Room, before the order was signed, President Biden said, “To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risks, we need to govern this technology. There’s no other way around it, in my view. It must be governed.” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed added that the reforms amount to “the strongest set of actions any government in the world has ever taken on AI safety, security, and trust.”

The AI Executive Order: Balancing Innovation with Safety

According to the Biden administration, these orders are permitted under the Defense Production Act, a law enacted in 1950 that granted the White House the ability to play a broad role in overseeing industries tied to national defense and security.

Some experts have stated that the order is good, but not enough. The bill has been seen as a step in the right direction by the majority of people. Daniel Colson, founder and executive director of the AI Policy Institute (AIPI), said that he believes the executive order is a positive step for those who have been calling for safety and regulation for AI. A recent poll from the AIPI indicated that the majority of US voters of all political affiliations (69%) support President Biden’s new executive order. The executive order will put the following steps into action:

  • It will require that developers of the most powerful AI systems share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government. Standards, tools and tests will be developed to help ensure that AI systems are safe, secure and trustworthy.
  • It will protect against the risks of using AI for engineering dangerous biological materials by developing strong new standards for biological synthesis screening.
  • It will protect Americans from AI-enabled fraud and deception by establishing standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content, including “watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content.”
  • It will establish an advanced cybersecurity program to develop AI tools to find and fix vulnerabilities in critical software, building on the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing AI Cyber Challenge.
  • The National Security Council and White House chief of staff will develop a National Security Memorandum that directs additional actions on AI and security.

The AI Executive Order: What It Means for Privacy and Equity

Other actions in the order include the protection of Americans’ privacy through the prioritization of federal support for accelerating the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques, including the use of cutting-edge AI. Additionally, it stipulates that AI systems be trained while preserving the privacy of the training data.

The order also includes the development of technologies such as cryptographic tools that preserve individuals’ privacy, by funding a Research Coordination Network to advance rapid breakthroughs and development, and the evaluation of the collection and use of commercially available information by government agencies, and strengthens privacy guidance for federal agencies to account for AI risks.


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