The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) welcomes the Biden Administration’s Executive Order for safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use of AI. This latest action from the White House addresses a number of areas that are critical for ensuring responsible AI practices by both the private and public sectors.
CDT President and CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens said:
“This Executive Order represents a remarkable, whole-of-government effort to support the responsible development and governance of AI. It’s notable to see the Administration focus on both the emergent risks of sophisticated foundation models and the many ways in which AI systems are already impacting people’s rights. The Administration rightly underscores that U.S. innovation must also include pioneering safeguards to deploy technology responsibly.
“This expansive Order addresses critical components of AI risk management and spurs guidance in many key areas where AI is currently deployed, from the workplace and housing to education and government benefits programs. It builds on the important foundation laid by the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and NIST’s AI Risk Management Framework, calling for continued development of detailed and actionable guidance to help organizations developing and deploying AI technology to foresee and mitigate potential harms.”
“This summer, CDT called on the Administration to: (i) center civil rights, democratic values, and the public interest in federal leadership on AI; (ii) model rights-respecting AI practices in the federal government’s own development, procurement, funding, and use of AI; (iii) institute formal mechanisms for interagency coordination that support federal agencies’ continued leadership on AI policy; and (iv) promote an ecosystem built on robust frameworks and standards for effective testing of AI systems. We are grateful to see each of these key elements of AI leadership reflected in the EO.”
“We are particularly encouraged that the Order directs multiple federal agencies to issue new guidance and adopt processes to prioritize civil rights and democratic values in AI governance, which CDT, fellow civil society organizations, and affected communities have advocated for the federal government to center in its AI policymaking.”
“We also commend the White House for leading on the federal government’s own use of AI. Strong guidelines for the federal government’s use of AI are essential to protect people’s rights, to ensure responsible use of taxpayer dollars, and to elevate standards for the effective testing and oversight of AI systems.”
“Of course, the EO’s success will rely on its effective implementation. We urge the Administration to move quickly to meet relevant deadlines, and to ensure that any guidance or mandates issued under the EO are sufficiently specific and actionable to drive meaningful change.”
“For several of the complex issues identified in the EO — from the government’s approach to open-source foundation models, to its approach to content provenance and authentication, to a new regime of mandatory disclosures from the developers of potentially high risk foundation models — extensive stakeholder consultation will be required. We must ensure that efforts to address the risks of AI do not impinge on lawful uses, undermine people’s privacy and self-expression, or thwart robust, open competition in technological development.”
CDT and other civil society organizations have long called for a number of the actions set forth in the EO. In particular, the Order calls for actions from several agencies to prevent the use of AI in ways that subject people to adverse decisions and treatment, including:
- Requiring the Secretary of Labor to develop principles and best practices to mitigate potential harms from AI-based tracking of workers’ activities and productivity;
- Calling on the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to develop guidance addressing how the use of algorithmic tenant screening and algorithmic targeting of advertising for housing and credit can lead to discriminatory outcomes that violate existing laws;
- Encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to exercise its rulemaking and enforcement authorities to ensure fair competition in the AI marketplace;
- Instructing departments and agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, to exercise their authorities to ensure that use of AI does not undermine the equitable administration of government programs and benefits; and
- Requiring the Department of Education to develop resources, policies, and guidance to promote the safe, responsible, and nondiscriminatory use of AI in education.
The Executive Order also requires the Department of Commerce to examine existing and potential standards and methods to establish the provenance of non-AI-generated content and advance capabilities around watermarking for AI-generated content. Further, the Order directs agencies to take steps to strengthen their cybersecurity measures, improve processes for evaluating AI risks when procuring systems, assess their purchasing and use of people’s personal data, and strengthen the federal workforce capacity to oversee and implement AI risk management procedures.
Key provisions of the EO relate to the federal government’s own development, procurement, and use of AI, an area where CDT and other civil society organizations have long called for federal leadership. More detailed guidance from the Office of Management & Budget to govern federal agencies use of AI is expected imminently.
The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is the leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization fighting to advance civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age. We shape technology policy, governance, and design with a focus on equity and democratic values. Established in 1994, CDT has been a trusted advocate for digital rights since the earliest days of the internet. The organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has a Europe Office in Brussels, Belgium.