Biden bans AI racism
US President Joe Biden has decreed that safeguards be put in place to prevent artificial intelligence (AI) technology from perpetuating racial discrimination in housing, the criminal justice system and other aspects of American life.
Provisions for “advancing equity and civil rights” were among the guidelines that Biden included in an executive order issued on Monday to set standards for AI safety and security. He called for providing “clear guidance” to landlords, federal contractors and public benefits programs to prevent AI algorithms from being used to “exacerbate discrimination.”
The order also includes guidance for developing “best practices” on the use of AI in law enforcement and the criminal court system, as well as a directive for federal prosecutors and civil rights offices to crack down on “algorithmic discrimination.” The Biden administration previously issued a guide for preventing automated systems from infringing on civil rights – called the 'Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights' – and directed federal agencies to combat discrimination in automation technology.
“Irresponsible use of AI can lead to and deepen discrimination, bias and other abuses in justice, health care and housing,” the White House said in a statement on Monday’s executive order.
Biden has made race a centerpiece of his administration since taking office in January 2021. He has boasted the most “inclusive” administration in US history and has issued multiple executive orders on equity and inclusion. In fact, Biden’s Domestic Policy Council is charged with embedding “equity principles” in everything the federal government does. For instance, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg launched a $1 billion program last year to combat racist roadways.
Monday’s executive order includes a wide range of new AI safeguards, such as a requirement that companies developing systems that pose a risk to national security notify the federal government and share the results of their safety tests. Biden also called for expanding grants for AI research and conducting a study on how the government can help mitigate job losses resulting from the technology.
The administration has already consulted with dozens of allies on developing international guidelines to “govern the development and use of AI,” the White House said. Those efforts will accelerate under Biden’s executive order.