As governments worldwide mull their AI strategies and policies, the Biden administration called for a “bill of rights” to mitigate adverse consequences.
What’s new: Top advisors to the U.S. president announced a plan to issue rules that would protect U.S. citizens against AI-powered surveillance, discrimination, and other kinds of harm. The dispatch coincided with a call for public comment on how to regulate systems like face recognition used to scan airline passengers, activity monitors that track employee productivity, and classroom management tools that alert teachers when their students tune out.
Why it matters: An AI bill of rights is notional for the time being. But it could serve as a blueprint for national legislation, and it certainly would influence some states. And government funding could be a powerful carrot and stick: The U.S. paid $1.9 billion in contracts to AI companies between 2018 and 2020, and many state and local governments rely on federal money for law enforcement, health care, and other services where the use of AI is both growing and controversial.
We’re thinking: We support regulations to help AI maximize benefit and minimize harm, and the president’s endorsement is an important step. That said, we wonder: Would an Electricity Bill of Rights have made sense 100 years ago? We urge regulators to focus not on AI as a whole but on applications in vertical areas such as surveillance, advertising, consumer software, health care, law enforcement, social media, and many other areas. Meanwhile, the deadline for public comment is January 15, 2022. Let’s make ourselves heard!
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