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Biden issues executive order to enhance government AI risk monitoring

Why one local cybersecurity researcher thinks it's a step in the right direction.
Posted at 6:41 PM, Oct 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-30 20:43:18-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — U.S. President Joe Biden has issued a comprehensive executive order regulating federal agencies' use of artificial intelligence, a significant move to address the risks of AI.

According to a senior administration official, the order would reshape AI usage in the federal government, impacting areas like health care, education, trade, housing, and more.

"What we needed was something, we needed a starting place," said Cybersecurity Researcher Dr. Erik Huffman.

Dr. Huffman is excited about the progress AI has made in his lifetime. He describes the technology as a program
that can access a database of information to give answers for questions. He thinks in the future, it could have potentially limitless uses.

"From everything from the healthcare industry to weather, to news and economic trends, so we can have smarter, better data quicker," said Huffman.

The White House says the order will mandate developers of advanced AI systems to disclose safety test results and essential data, create safety standards and tools, protect against AI-enabled fraud, establish cybersecurity measures, and issue a National Security Memorandum for further AI security actions.

The executive order will require developers to share safety test results with the government through the Defense Production Act, set standards for red team testing, and direct the Department of Commerce to craft guidance to help authenticate content and pursue fixes to vulnerabilities in critical software.

Although the order is extensive, its objectives include safeguarding Americans' privacy through the advancement of privacy-preserving techniques, the enhancement of research and technology, the evaluation of data collection methods, guidance provision to various entities, tackling algorithmic discrimination, ensuring fairness within the criminal justice system, and crafting AI best practices for workers.

Huffman is worried about the negative uses of AI, including preying on people through cyber crimes with things like misinformation and deepfake technology.

"AI and deepfakes, attackers can use it to attack people very, very easily and to scam people and phish people, because now you're seeing people you know, you love, you trust, and it's being faked," he said.

The order directs coordination for best practices to investigate civil rights violations related to AI and develop best practices for its use in the criminal justice system and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a safety program when it comes to AI in health care. It also requires an examination of AI’s potential impact on the labor market.

"If we provide guidance and some standardization for it, and some transparency with it, to the government and us as consumers, where we can see the safety trends from that AI, it can help in the future," continued Huffman.

While prior White House initiatives aimed at addressing AI have faced criticism, the new order will empower numerous agencies to exert influence in the market. Despite congressional attempts to craft legislation to address AI risks, no comprehensive measures have been introduced thus far, but the order renews calls on Congress to pass legislation on data privacy.