U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor awards ceremony in the East Room of the White House on May 17, 2023. in Washington, D.C.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor awards ceremony in the East Room of the White House on May 17, 2023. in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Releases Guidelines for Responsible AI Development

The Biden administration lists its priorities for federal R&D in artificial intelligence—and asks for suggestions about allaying the risks.

The White House launched a series of new executive initiatives on fostering a culture of responsible artificial intelligence technology usage and practice within the U.S. on Tuesday, featuring a national strategic R&D plan and education objectives.

Following previous national frameworks, the three new announcements from the Biden administration act as guidelines to help codify responsible and effective AI algorithm usage, development and deployment, absent federal law.

“The federal government plays a critical role in this effort, including through smart investments in research and development (R&D) that promote responsible innovation and advance solutions to the challenges that other sectors will not address on their own,” the strategic plan executive summary reads. 

Among the three announcements include a new roadmap of priority R&D areas in the AI sector for federal investments, a public request for information on how the federal government can best mitigate AI system risk, and an analysis documenting benefits and risks to AI technologies in education.

The R&D Strategic Plan, developed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is composed of several pillars to invest in safe-by-design AI systems that can be implemented in a social context. Those pillars include prioritizing long-term investments in responsible AI; developing methods for enhanced human-AI collaboration and understanding; thoroughly compiling a definitive list of ethical, legal and societal risks and benefits to AI system deployment; developing shared public datasets for broad AI algorithmic training; evaluating the needs of an AI-savvy workforce; expanding public and private sector partnerships; and establishing international collaborations on AI research efforts.

“The federal government plays a critical role in ensuring that technologies like AI are developed responsibly, and to serve the American people,” the plan’s fact sheet reads. “Federal investments over many decades have facilitated many key discoveries in AI innovations that power industry and society today, and federally funded research has sustained progress in AI throughout the field’s evolution.”

Complimenting the R&D plan are new insights into how new AI technologies can impact classroom learning and the broader educational system. Authored by leadership in the Department of Education, the report recommends ways educators can leverage AI-powered systems––namely exam monitoring, writing assistance and voice recognition devices––to their benefit, while mitigating potential risks.  

Countering bias and data exposure in these systems was a paramount discussion point, leading regulators to broadly recommend all future education policies dealing with AI at a federal, state and local level keep user needs, feedback and empowerment in mind. 

“As protections are developed, we recommend that policies center people, not machines,” the recommendations read. “Teachers, learners and others need to retain their agency to decide what patterns mean and to choose courses of action.”

DOE leadership also reiterated that AI technologies should not displace teachers. 

“Some teachers worry that they may be replaced—to the contrary, the Department firmly rejects the idea that AI could replace teachers,” the recommendation states. 

The final AI announcement requests public input on a new National AI Strategy. The forthcoming guidance aims to build on existing Biden-Harris administration actions surrounding AI and machine learning to further chart the nation's course into a safe and integrated future with AI technologies. 

“By developing a National AI Strategy, the federal government will provide a whole-of-society approach to AI,” the RFI background says. “The strategy will pay particular attention to recent and projected advances in AI, to make sure that the United States is responsive to the latest opportunities and challenges posed by AI, as well as the global changes that will arrive in the coming years.”

Comments from the public will be accepted until July 7, 2023. Some of the questions officials ask discuss best oversight practices of AI technologies, how AI language models can maintain secure software designs, how AI can strengthen civil rights and how AI can better identify digital vulnerabilities in critical infrastructures’ digital networks. 

These comments reflect the broad goals of a forthcoming National AI Strategy that seeks to incorporate AI systems into a broad array of societal institutions, while simultaneously controlling for common risks.

On top of releasing new plans for more national AI technology oversight, the Biden administration will host a conversation with American workers today to hear concerns over automation and its broader economic impact. 

AI regulation has been a chief talking point across the federal government following the breakthrough prevalence of generative AI systems such as ChatGPT, as a lack of sweeping regulations haunt the continued innovation in the AI/ML field.