President Biden signed a far-reaching executive order on artificial intelligence on Monday, requiring companies to report to the federal government about risks that their systems could help countries or terrorists create weapons of mass destruction . The order also seeks to reduce the threats of “deep fakes” that could influence elections or defraud consumers.
“Deep fakes use AI-generated audio and video to tarnish reputations, spread fake news, and perpetrate fraud,” Mr Biden said as he signed the order at the White House. He described his concern that fraudsters could take three seconds of a person’s voice and manipulate its content, turning an innocent comment into something more sinister that would instantly go viral.
“I’ve seen one of those,” he said, referring to an experiment his staff performed to show how a well-built artificial intelligence system could manipulate speech. “I said, ‘When did I say that?'”
The order is an effort by Mr Biden to show that the United States, considered a leading power in fast-advancing artificial intelligence technology, will also take a leading role in its regulation. Already, Europe is moving forward with its own rules, and Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to London this week to represent the United States at an international conference hosted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“We have a moral, ethical and social duty to ensure that AI is adopted and advanced in a way that protects the public from potential harm,” Ms Harris said at the White House. “Our intention is that the actions we are taking domestically will serve as a model for international action,” he said.
But the order issued by Mr. Biden, the result of more than a year of work by multiple government departments, represents a first draft. While Mr. Biden has broad powers to regulate how the federal government uses artificial intelligence, his ability to reach into the private sector is limited. He acknowledged that although his order “represents bold action, we still need Congress to take action.”
Still, Mr. Biden made it clear that his intention is for the United States to take the first steps into a new era of regulation as it seeks to put the guardrails on a global technology that offers great promise for both diseases. Diagnosing, predicting floods. and other impacts of climate change, improving security in the air and at sea – and at significant risk.
“One thing is clear: To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risks, we need to control this technology,” Mr Biden said. “there’s no other way.”