Biden Admin Releases Vague Press Release on AI Regulation

July 21st, 2023 5:20 PM

The Biden administration is working with seven AI companies to ensure the “safety, security, and trust” of society as AI develops but it is often vague about what exactly that means.

The White House announced on July 21 that President Joe Biden lured seven leading AI companies  – Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI – to announce what they called “secured voluntary commitments”  to advance safe, secure, and transparent development of AI technology,” the White House wrote in a recent press release on July 21. But the White House’s explanation of the collaboration is littered with vague phrases about efforts to address societal “risks,” “effects” and “challenges.”

The administration brought up some clear and legitimate concerns mixed with vague language multiple times in its statement. For example, the White House argued for the need for in security testing to “guard[] against some of the most significant sources of AI risks, such as biosecurity and cybersecurity, as well as its broader societal effects.” What broader societal effects? Are these concerns for how AI will fundamentally change how people find and share information or partisan concerns about wrong think and so-called misinformation that runs against the current na rrative?

The White House gave some clues when it noted a need for companies to report what their systems can and cannot do and how they can be abused. “This report will cover both security risks and societal risks, such as the effects on fairness and bias,” the press release states. It went on to claim that “The companies commit to prioritizing research on the societal risks that AI systems can pose, including on avoiding harmful bias and discrimination, and protecting privacy.” Again it is unclear whether the Biden administration is showing genuine concern or is worried about partisan exaggerations of “societal risks,” “fairness,” and “harmful bias and discrimination.” 

The press release a third time noted that “The companies commit to develop and deploy advanced AI systems to help address society’s greatest challenges.” With an almost Pollyanish hopefulness, the administration explained adding that[f]rom cancer prevention to mitigating climate change to so much in between, AI—if properly managed—can contribute enormously to the prosperity, equality, and security of all.”

Although vague in its press release, Biden’s seemed happy to explain his approach on AI to a group of civil society leaders in San Francisco last month. "My administration is committed to safeguarding Americans' rights and safety while protecting privacy, to addressing bias and misinformation, to making sure AI systems are safe before they are released," Biden said according to Reuters.

MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider noted that the vagueness in the White House’s statement is cause for concern. “What Biden says to donors and Big Tech executives behind closed doors is revealing. To them he will talk about manipulating A.I. to eliminate so-called ‘disinformation,’ which is just another word for speech that opposes his priorities and political objectives,” he said. “It is clear that he wants to use AI to censor speech with the government's heavy hand directing the way. Americans need to read between the lines in the published documents coming out of the White House. Biden hides behind the thin veil of ‘safety’ when he actually means ‘silence his opponents.’”

Past initiatives of the Biden Administration demonstrate this. Biden famously told tech companies that they were “killing people” apparently for not censoring those who opposed the COVID-19 vaccines. A recent injunction in the Missouri v. Biden case revealed that, according to Chief District Judge Terry Doughty, the Biden Administration repeatedly worked with Twitter and Facebook to remove “harmful” so-called misinformation.

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