In a landmark move, President Joe Biden signed a significant executive order on Monday, introducing sweeping regulations for artificial intelligence (AI) in the United States. The lengthy executive order sets new standards on security and privacy protections for AI, with potentially far-reaching impacts on companies and developers like Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
These companies are now required to put their AI models through rigorous safety tests and submit the results to the government before public release. The order leverages the U.S. government’s position as a top customer for big tech companies to vet technology with potential national or economic security risks, as well as health and safety concerns.
“This executive order sends a critical message: that AI used by the United States government will be responsible AI,” said International Business Machines Corp. Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna.
The new initiative also creates infrastructure for watermarking standards for AI-generated content, such as audio or images, commonly referred to as “deepfakes.” The Commerce Department is asked to help develop measures to counter public confusion about authentic content.
Biden’s directive precedes a trip by Vice President Kamala Harris and industry leaders to attend a U.K.-hosted summit on AI risks. This will give Harris a U.S. plan to present on the world stage. The U.S. has set aside $1.6 billion in fiscal 2023 for AI, a number expected to increase with further details from the military.
In addition to addressing security and privacy concerns, Biden’s executive order also called for guidance to safeguard Americans from algorithmic bias in housing, government benefits programs, and federal contractors. The Justice Department has been directed to establish best practices for investigating and prosecuting such civil rights violations related to AI.
The order also addresses immigration, asking officials to lessen visa requirements for overseas talent seeking to work at American AI companies.
Among the highlights of Biden’s executive order are the creation of a dedicated job portal hosted at AI.gov to attract more AI experts and researchers into government, as well as a new training program aiming to produce 500 AI researchers by 2025.
Microsoft views the order as “another critical step forward in the governance of AI technology,” said Vice Chairman and President Brad Smith.
While Biden has made significant strides in regulating AI, Congress may go further, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for the U.S. to spend at least $32 billion in the coming years to boost AI research and development.
This executive order represents the U.S. government’s most robust advancement of AI regulation to date. Biden has also called on lawmakers to pass privacy legislation, though his position on comprehensive regulation of AI by Congress remains to be seen.