Biden Takes Action to Protect Civil Rights in the Age of AI
On Oct. 4, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: A Vision for Protecting Our Civil Rights in the Algorithmic Age. This blueprint aimed to initiate discussions on fair principles to govern artificial intelligence (AI) innovation. The goal was to address the discrimination and harm that AI systems can introduce into various aspects of society, such as employment, housing, voting, lending, criminal justice, social media, ad tech targeting, surveillance, and profiling.
The release of generative AI systems like ChatGPT spurred further urgency in finding ways to govern emerging technologies while minimizing risk without stifling innovation. To address these concerns, a year later, the Biden administration issued an executive order titled Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy AI on Oct. 30, 2023. This order focused on safety and incorporated many of the principles outlined in the AI Bill of Rights blueprint.
The executive order included provisions that emphasized civil rights and equity. For instance, it mandated the development of guidance for federal contractors on preventing AI algorithms from exacerbating discrimination. The order also called for training on investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations related to AI and ensuring AI fairness within the criminal justice system.
The incorporation of civil rights and equity principles in AI regulation aligns with research highlighting the significance of these issues in technology and civil rights. However, civil rights laws often take time to advance, and the rapid introduction of AI technology and algorithmic systems, with their black box harms and potential racial bias, poses challenges to addressing these issues effectively. Ensuring that civil rights are not compromised as AI technologies permeate society remains a crucial question.
The AI Bill of Rights blueprint, developed under the leadership of Alondra Nelson, then acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, provides a series of fair principles to mitigate the harms caused by AI and automated systems. These principles aim to address the disparate impacts and challenges posed by digitized forms of profiling, targeting, and surveillance.
In conclusion, the Biden administration’s actions reflect a commitment to protect civil rights in the age of AI. By incorporating the principles outlined in the AI Bill of Rights blueprint, the government aims to ensure the development and use of AI technology aligns with fairness, equity, and the safeguarding of individuals’ rights. As AI continues to advance, it is essential to strike a balance between innovation and the preservation of civil rights principles in order to build a just and inclusive society.