Biden administration announces AI ‘Bill of Rights’

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The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled a set of far-reaching goals aimed at halting the damage caused by the rise of artificial intelligence systems, including guidelines to protect people’s personal data and limit surveillance.

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Officials said the blueprint for the AI ​​Bill of Rights does not specifically set out specific enforcement actions, but rather is intended as a White House call to action for the US government to protect digital and civil rights in an AI-fueled world .

“What this Biden-Harris administration is really saying is that we need to work together, not just in government, but in all sectors to really put equality and civil rights at the center of what we create and use. and government technologies,” said Alondra Nelson, deputy director of science and society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “We can expect and demand better and better from our technologies.”


The office said the white paper represents a major advance in the administration’s agenda to hold technology companies accountable, and highlighted the commitments of various federal agencies to weigh new regulations and study the specific impacts of AI technologies. The document emerged after a year-long consultation with more than two dozen different departments, and also includes feedback from civil society groups, technologists, industry researchers and tech companies that include Palantir and Microsoft.

It suggests five core principles that the White House says should be built into AI systems to limit the effects of algorithmic bias, give users control over their data, and ensure that automated systems operate securely and transparently. are used.

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The resulting non-binding theory cites academic research, agency studies and news reports that have documented real-world harm from AI-powered devices, including facial recognition devices that contribute to false arrests and an automated system. Which discriminates against loan seekers who attend historically Black colleges or universities.

The white paper also states that parents and social workers alike could benefit from knowing whether child welfare agencies are using algorithms to help decide whether families When should the investigation be done?

After the publication earlier this year of a AP review of algorithmic tools According to several people who participated in the call, one used in a Pennsylvania child welfare system, OSTP employees reached out to the sources cited in the article to learn more. The AP investigation found that the Allegheny County tool showed a pattern of flagging a disproportionate number of black children for “compulsory” neglect checks compared to white children in their first years of operation.

In May, sources said researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and employees of the American Civil Liberties Union spoke with OSTP officials about child welfare agencies’ use of algorithms. Nelson said protecting children from the harms of technology is a matter of concern.

“If a tool or automated system is disproportionately harming a vulnerable community, it should be expected that there will be levers and opportunities to address it through some specific applications and instructional suggestions,” Nelson said. As Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden.

OSTP did not provide additional comment about the May meeting.

Still, because many AI-powered tools are developed, adopted or funded at state and local levels, the federal government has limited oversight regarding their use. The white paper makes no specific mention of how the Biden administration might influence specific policies at the state or local level, but a senior administration official said the administration was exploring whether to combine federal grants with AI guidance. how to align

The white paper does not authorize technology companies developing the equipment, nor does it include any new legislative proposals. Nelson said agencies will continue to use existing regulations to prevent automated systems from harming people the wrong way.

The white paper also did not specifically address AI-powered technologies funded through the Justice Department, whose civil rights division is separately investigating algorithmic harm, bias and discrimination, Nelson said.

Amid calls for more surveillance, the white paper also noted that when implemented appropriately, AI systems have the power to bring lasting benefits to society, such as helping farmers grow food more efficiently or identify diseases. help to do

“Driven by the power of American innovation, these tools have the potential to redefine every part of our society and improve lives for all. This significant progress should not come at the expense of civil rights or democratic values.”

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