The White House on Thursday announced a series of measures to address the challenges of artificial intelligence, driven by the sudden popularity of tools such as ChatGPT and amid rising concerns about the technology’s potential risks for discrimination, misinformation and privacy.
The US government plans to introduce policies that shape how federal agencies procure and use AI systems, the White House said. The step could significantly influence the market for AI products and control how Americans interact with AI on government websites, at security checkpoints and in other settings.
The National Science Foundation will also spend $140 million to promote research and development in AI, the White House added. The funds will be used to create research centers that seek to apply AI to issues such as climate change, agriculture and public health, according to the administration.
The plan comes the same day that Vice President Kamala Harris and other administration officials are expected to meet with the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, ChatGPT-creator OpenAI and Anthropic to emphasize the importance of ethical and responsible AI development. And it coincides with a UK government inquiry launched Thursday into the risks and benefits of AI.
“Tech companies have a fundamental responsibility to make sure their products are safe and secure, and that they protect people’s rights before they’re deployed or made public,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters on a conference call.
Officials cited a range of risks the public faces in the widespread adoption of AI tools, including the possible use of AI-created deepfakes and misinformation that could undermine the democratic process. Job losses linked to rising automation, biased algorithmic decision-making, physical dangers arising from autonomous vehicles and the threat of AI-powered malicious hackers are also on the White House’s list of concerns.
It’s just the latest example of the federal government acknowledging concerns from the rapid development and deployment of new AI tools, and trying to find ways to address some of the risks.
Testifying before Congress, members of the Federal Trade Commission have argued AI could “turbocharge” fraud and scams. Its chair, Lina Khan, wrote in a New York Times op-ed this week that the US government has ample existing legal authority to regulate AI by leaning on its mandate to protect consumers and competition.
Last year, the Biden administration unveiled a proposal for an AI Bill of Rights calling for developers to respect the principles of privacy, safety and equal rights as they create new AI tools.
Earlier this year, the Commerce Department released voluntary risk management guidelines for AI that it said could help organizations and businesses “govern, map, measure and manage” the potential dangers in each part of the development cycle. In April, the Department also said it is seeking public input on the best policies for regulating AI, including through audits and industry self-regulation.
The US government isn’t alone in seeking to shape AI development. European officials anticipate hammering out AI legislation as soon as this year that could have major implications for AI companies around the world.