Biden empowers federal agencies to monitor AI

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Artificial intelligence has gone mainstream. As U.S. tech companies have raced to release shockingly powerful large language models, public reaction ran the gamut from rapture to horror. Policymakers from Washington to Beijing realized quickly that generative AI — and successive AI breakthroughs — would crown new market leaders, hand more decisions to machines, put cyberattacks on steroids and fundamentally alter people’s trust in what they see, read or hear. Biden has taken a keen interest in understanding the inner workings of large language models and how the U.S. could turn AI into a lasting economic advantage.

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Article Contents

The move

Biden’s White House issued a highly technical but far-reaching AI executive order last year that surprised even close observers with its ambition. The order mobilizes a wide range of government powers to tackle the potential risks of AI, in areas from discrimination to national security. It also sets new guidelines for safety, including standards for new models and marking synthetic content.

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The impact

Biden’s executive order starts the clock for more than a dozen federal agencies to figure out what the gold standard for “safe, secure and trustworthy” AI handling should be for their own operations — and in the case of the Commerce Department, for the private sector as well.

The upshot

The sprawling AI executive order sets the federal government up to keep tabs on tech companies who are developing highly capable AI models. The impending regulatory scrutiny is already chafing Washington’s tech lobby. Additionally, whether federal agencies will have the resources to execute the Biden administration’s ambitious vision for an AI-savvy public sector will depend heavily on whether Congress delivers on the president’s budget request.



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