The White House has issued what it calls a “landmark” executive order to begin to regulate the messy, fast-evolving industry of AI.
“The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more,” explains a White House fact sheet on the order.
The executive order:
- Requires that organizations developing “any foundation model that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety” must share safety test results with the federal government.
- Establishes a number of oversight boards, including within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
- Calls for the Department of Commerce to issue “guidance for content authentication and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content,” especially to help citizens identify government-issued statements.
- Funds and offer guidance on tools and best practices for safeguarding the privacy of users.
- Address algorithmic discrimination that could result from AI being used in housing, benefits and the criminal justice system.
- Works with other nations to continue to develop AI guardrails and cooperative agreements.
Why it matters:
We’re clearly still in the infancy of AI. Most of these provisions call for things like “guidance,” “establishment” and “funding.” But it’s still a clear first, major step for the United States government to wrangle with the incredible rise of AI.
The U.S. has lagged behind other actors – most notably the EU – in their attempts to regulate AI as Congress has been busy grappling with a number of other issues, ranging from the Ukraine-Russia war to electing their own leaders.. Expect this to be the first of many incremental steps toward bringing some order to the Wild West that is AI. These regulations could change the landscape and make it more or less attractive for communicators to use and develop AI tools. Pay attention.
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