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Biden Signs Order Requiring Artificial Intelligence Safeguards

VOA Learning English • voa
Oct. 30, 2023 5 minSource

U.S. President Joe Biden has issued an executive order related to artificial intelligence. Biden signed the order on Monday.

He said the government needs to move quickly to work with companies developing artificial intelligence – or AI – technology.

Jeff Zients, Biden’s chief of staff, said the president once said, “we can’t move at the normal government pace .”

Biden signed an executive order that requires technology companies working on AI projects to develop rules to protect consumers .

An executive order permits the president to tell a U.S. government agency how to act on an issue that lawmakers have not yet dealt with. In the order, Biden said he is using the Defense Production Act, which permits the government, under some conditions, to direct the activities of private businesses.

By signing the order, Biden is moving ahead of the U.S. Congress.

The executive order goes past voluntary agreements made by companies such as Meta and Google to make AI technology safer for regular people.

The new order requires technology companies that want to use AI in applications for security, the economy, public health and safety to share information with the U.S. government.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will work to create tests that new AI tools must pass before they are released to the public.

The U.S. government will be required to think about how AI will be used in cybersecurity, the supervision of chemicals, radiation, and nuclear materials.

The order tells the Department of Commerce to create guidelines for materials generated by AI. That means something such as a photo or video needs to have a mark or stamp showing that AI technology was used to create it. One version of this is called a watermark. In the case of a photo, a watermark would be a small sign showing that a computer created the image.

The order says it aims to deal with concerns that AI will only help certain people. It requires any use of AI technology to follow civil rights guidelines designed to prevent discrimination in hiring, housing, medical treatment and the sentencing of criminals. Biden said he would direct the Department of Justice to bring charges over civil rights violations related to AI technology.

Biden’s declaration covers the use of AI by schools, students and businesses. One section says companies that want to use AI tools must also consider “the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers.”

Biden’s advisors call the order “the strongest set of actions” any government has taken to ensure AI security.

Bruce Reed is the White House deputy chief of staff. He said the order is “an aggressive strategy .”

A Biden administration official also said the president plans to ask U.S. lawmakers to push for stronger data privacy protections.

Biden said he wants the U.S. government to stay ahead of AI technology instead of falling behind as it did when social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram began to get popular.

Biden said he is concerned about the way artificial intelligence can create false images, sounds and videos. The images, he said, can hurt the way people see themselves, spread false information and permit criminals to do harm. One example, he noted, is that AI can recreate a person’s voice. Criminals can then use the sound of a person’s voice to make a false call to a friend or family member.

However, he said he sees the possible good things that can come from the new technology to solve medical problems and improve government services.

Government officials around the world say they are worried about the use of AI. The Group of Seven released a document on Monday saying plans are in place for a “ code of conduct” agreement that will apply to companies developing artificial intelligence systems.

Biden praised Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying the Senator from New York has been a leader on the issue.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will attend an AI meeting this week in Britain. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he wants to make his country a leader in AI safety.

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on reports by Reuters and the Associated Press.

Words in This Story

pace –n. the speed at which something moves

consumer –n. a person who buys and uses products for personal use

application –n. a computer program aimed at doing a task

generated –adj. created by a process

sentence –v. to officially give the punishment for a person found guilty of a crime

strategy –n . a plan to reach a large goal over a long period of time

code –n. a rule for how something should be done

We want to hear from you. How is the government where you live working to protect its people from AI?

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