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  • Writer's pictureFrederick L Shelton

Biden's Opening Move on AI Regulation: Brilliant or Broken?

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

The U.S. Government is usually not pro-active. Think about it. It was only AFTER Enron that they passed Sarbanes-Oxley. It was only AFTER some idiot tried smuggling explosives onto a plane in his shoes, that we all had to start taking them off at the Airport. The examples are countless.

But lo and behold, President Joe Biden has decided to be an exception to the rule! Don’t get me wrong. I'm an independent so there is much I disagree with him (and the Dems) on. But whether Democrat or Republican, when a politician does something I like, I can acknowledge it. In this case, President Biden has indeed, done something right. He’s signed an executive order that’s definitely a step in the right direction, when it comes to regulating AI – before a black swan event occurs. And AI isn't just a U.S. affair; it's a global tête-à-tête, a conversation starter for the planet. Thus Biden has defined what needs to be regulated and which agencies will be responsible for enforcing the regulation. Let's break down the top 10 takeaways from this move, from the perspective of a chess player (me!), shall we?

Biden's AI Masterplan: A Chessboard of Strategic Moves

1. King's Opening - Transparency: Right now, AI companies can build whatever they want, however they want, without telling anybody about it. That’s pretty scary. Thanks to this EO, if you're developing AI that's a force to be reckoned with, the U.S. government wants a front-row seat. You'll need to disclose safety tests and other pivotal data. No more shadow plays; it's time for full disclosure. Biden has not yet identified which specific agency will have purview over this.

2. Queen's Gambit - NIST Standards: Biden has now assigned the high-tech realm of AI to a specific regulatory agency. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is taking center stage, crafting the rules and tools that will ensure AI systems are as trustworthy as they are innovative. Biden doesn’t specific which agencies but the obvious players are the FDA, CDC and NIH.

3. Bishop's Angle - Bio-Safety: Agencies that back life-science projects are now the guardians of bio-safety. They're setting up new, stringent standards to ensure AI doesn't turn into a bio-hazard. The agencies listed in 2 above and probably the EPA will oversee this one.

4. Knight's Tour - Content Authenticity: The Department of Commerce is making moves to ensure you can distinguish AI-generated content from the real deal. Watermarking and content authentication are their weapons of choice. This will help artists, writers and virtually every other creative type.

5. Rook's Advance - Cybersecurity: The U.S. government is fortifying its digital castle with an advanced cybersecurity program, leveraging AI to identify and patch vulnerabilities in critical software.

6. Pawn Promotion - National Security Memo: The National Security Council and the White House Chief of Staff are drafting a memorandum that will further define the role of AI in national security.

7. Castling - Privacy Protection: In the chessboard of modern technology, the executive order's eighth point is a strategic "Castling" move to safeguard our digital king—personal privacy. It calls for advanced privacy-preserving technologies, the knights in this game, backed by cryptographic tools, our rooks, to form an impenetrable defense. A funded Research Coordination Network serves as the grandmaster, orchestrating rapid breakthroughs. In this digital chess match, the government is setting up for a decisive checkmate against privacy violations.

8. En Passant - Privacy Research: A Research Coordination Network will be funded to fast-track breakthroughs in privacy-preserving technologies, like cryptographic tools.

9. Check - Algorithmic Fairness: It is no secret that Ai is biased against women and minorities. The Department of Justice and Federal civil rights offices are joining forces to tackle algorithmic discrimination, setting best practices for civil rights investigations related to AI.

10. Checkmate - Criminal Justice Fairness: The endgame is to ensure fairness across the criminal justice system by developing best practices for AI applications in sentencing, parole, and other key areas. Again, the DOJ will probably take the lead on this one.

There you have it, a strategic layout of Biden's AI executive order, each move designed to balance innovation with ethics, security, and social responsibility. It's a chess match for the modern age, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Will it be effective? Is anything the government does effective on its first try? Usually not. But it's a good opening move.

Frederick Shelton


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