Biden issues executive order on AI

Today was the day that Joe Biden (or more likely his staff) chose to sign a sweeping executive order mandating an accelerated program to develop safeguards in the field of artificial intelligence. While some of you may also be thinking Joe should probably be more concerned with his own intelligence at this point, his Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients, assured reporters that this is one of Biden’s top priorities and AI is a source of “deep personal interest” for the President. 

The order will act as a type of de facto regulation on the technology industry and also include work to be done by multiple federal agencies to ensure AI is used safely and responsibly. This is obviously an important topic and one that I’ve been following closely, but hearing all of this coming out of the current White House, well… the jokes kind of write themselves. 

From the Associated Press:

President Joe Biden on Monday will sign a sweeping executive order to guide the development of artificial intelligence — requiring industry to develop safety and security standards, introducing new consumer protections, and giving federal agencies an extensive to-do list to oversee the rapidly progressing technology.

The order reflects the government’s effort to shape how AI evolves in a way that can maximize its possibilities and contain its perils. AI has been a source of deep personal interest for Biden, with its potential to affect the economy and national security.

White House chief of staff Jeff Zients recalled Biden giving his staff a directive to move with urgency on the issue, having considered the technology a top priority.

Right off the bat I will just note that if Joe Biden was really all that interested in the possibilities and perils of Artificial Intelligence, he probably wouldn’t have put Kamala Harris in charge of it. (Just saying…) And while we’re on the topic, what has our AI czarina been up to since receiving that assignment? She appears to have shown as much interest in it as she has invested in fixing the southern border.

The White House apparently believes that the Defense Production Act empowers them to order AI developers to release safety test results and other information to the government. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is being tasked with establishing safety standards that such products must meet before they are released to the public. Other regulatory agenda items abound.

I will be the first to agree that AI has the potential to go off the rails and cause serious problems. The people creating the software have already said as much and have been working on “guardrails” in the code. But that’s why the idea of dragging the federal government into the process at this stage seems rather ridiculous. Even the people at companies like OpenAI admit they don’t fully understand how their product is working, though they have promised to try to not let it “go rogue.” The so-called “Godfather of AI” is as worried as anyone, saying when he quit his position at Google that he was “frightened” of what he created. Another leading developer said that he can’t explain everything the chatbots do because sometimes they are “hallucinating.”

With all of that in mind, what do you expect a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington to do about this? I suppose they could try to issue regulations so stringent that nobody could possibly meet them and basically shut the industry down. (After all, that’s how they’re getting rid of gas-powered cars.) But all that would accomplish would be positioning the United States to be left in the dust by other competitors. Biden can’t shut down or even regulate AI across the rest of the world. And I’m sad to say, the genie is already out of the bottle. It won’t be going back in. Nobody asked us if we wanted to go on this ride, but we’re on it now. And I can’t imagine the federal government being capable of doing anything other than making the situation worse.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post