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White House Implements New AI Safeguards to Protect Rights and Safety

 |  March 28, 2024

In a move to regulate the expanding use of artificial intelligence (AI) in federal agencies, the White House has announced stringent measures aimed at safeguarding Americans’ rights and ensuring safety.

The directive, issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Thursday, mandates federal agencies to adopt concrete safeguards by December 1, as reported by Reuters.

Under the new guidelines, agencies utilizing AI technologies are obligated to monitor, assess, and test the impacts of AI on the public. Additionally, efforts must be made to mitigate the risks of algorithmic discrimination while providing transparent insights into the government’s AI usage. This entails conducting thorough risk assessments and establishing operational and governance metrics to ensure accountability and transparency.

President Joe Biden had previously signed an executive order in October, invoking the Defense Production Act to compel developers of AI systems posing risks to national security, economy, public health, or safety to share safety test results with the U.S. government prior to public release.

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The White House emphasized that the implementation of these safeguards is crucial, particularly in instances where AI deployment could impact Americans’ rights or safety. Detailed public disclosures regarding the usage of AI by the government will be made to ensure transparency and accountability.

Notable provisions include the ability for air travelers to opt-out from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) facial recognition screenings without delay and the requirement for human oversight in federal healthcare systems where AI supports diagnostic decisions.

Generative AI, which has raised both excitement and concerns, particularly regarding job displacement and potential societal upheavals, is also addressed in the directive. Government agencies are now mandated to release inventories of AI use cases, report metrics on AI usage, and disclose government-owned AI code, models, and data, provided they do not pose significant risks.

The Biden administration underscored the ongoing utilization of AI across various federal agencies. For instance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employs AI to assess structural hurricane damage, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) utilizes AI for disease spread prediction and opioid use detection. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) leverages AI to enhance air traffic management in major metropolitan areas, ultimately improving travel efficiency.

Source: Reuters