From ChatGPT to Executive Orders: Inside the White House’s Urgent Push to Regulate AI | CNN Politics


President Joe Biden huddled in the Oval Office with several of his top advisers in early April as an aide typed suggestions into ChatGPT: Summarize the New Jersey v. Delaware Supreme Court ruling and turn it into a Bruce Springsteen song.

Weeks earlier, Biden had joked to Springsteen at the National Medal of Arts ceremony that the case, centered on rights to the Delaware River, also gave his home state a claim to The Boss. Now, before the president’s eyes, the AI ​​chatbot instantly began composing Springsteen-style lyrics.

Like many Americans who have toyed with ChatGPT, the president was amazed.

At the end of the meeting, which also focused on the impact of AI on cybersecurity and jobs, he reminded aides in the room, including his chief of staff Jeff Zients, deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed and top science advisor Dr. Arati Prabhakar of what he had already been clear inside the West Wing for weeks: artificial intelligence should be a top priority.

Weeks earlier, the ChatGPT explosion thrust AI into the public consciousness, triggering a flurry of hearings on Capitol Hill as AI industry leaders touted its game-changing potential, but also warned of the risk of extinction. AI.

In the White House, the surge in interest in ChatGPT has moved AI from the sidelines to a central priority.

This urgency is welcomed in AI policy circles. Several people who have advised the White House on AI policy said that while the White House laid an important foundation last year with its draft AI Bill of Rights, they were concerned that the administration was not paying enough attention to AI policy. Those same people say it’s now clear the White House has shifted gears to meet the moment.

If we had this conversation six months ago, my responses would have been very different from today, said a member of the National AI Advisory Committee, which signaled a wake-up call within the federal government after the explosion of Chat GPT.

Led by the White House Chief of Staff’s Office, senior administration officials have been meeting two to three times a week to advance work on AI policy since early this spring, tackling AI on multiple fronts , from disinformation and cybersecurity to economic transformation and equity. AI has also become a constant topic of conversation during weekly Saturday strategy sessions among Biden’s senior advisers.

After advancing to a meeting of top AI CEOs at the White House last month, Biden met with a group of AI experts and academics in San Francisco on Tuesday to get a non-industry perspective on AI risks and opportunities .

I want to hear from the experts directly, and these are some of the world’s leading experts on this issue, Biden said, noting that he hopes to hear about the risks and promises of artificial intelligence. He added that Vice President Kamala Harris will hold an AI summit next month focused on consumer protection.

Officials say they have urgently laid the groundwork for several policy actions to be unveiled this summer, including executive orders to maximize the effect of existing AI regulations, harness their potential, and establish new guardrails for the booming and multifaceted technology .

This is not an area you can take years to get your hands on or regulate. You have to measure time in weeks, Zients told CNN. Speed ​​is really important here. If one acts too slowly, you will be behind in your action and your action will be overridden by technology. So, we need to act decisively and quickly and pull every lever we have to maximize positive impact while minimizing unintended consequences.

Officials are especially aware of Washington’s poor track record of rapidly tackling major technological changes, and the failure to regulate social media early on is particularly looming. This time around, most of the major AI companies are asking Washington to regulate their sector, albeit with different proposals and motivations, and several legislative efforts are already underway.

Senior administration officials have acknowledged that legislation will be needed to address some new aspects and issues arising from AI, including the underlying technology, but they also believe they can and should begin shaping the regulatory framework through executive action.

Among the tasks officials have already undertaken, including creating a large inventory of government regulations that could apply to AI and identifying where new regulations need to be created to fill gaps, according to a senior US official. administration.

Within the next month, major AI companies such as Google, Microsoft and OpenAI are expected to announce privacy and security commitments drafted in coordination with the White House, according to a senior administration official, who said the federal government will employ appropriate methods to ensure that companies live up to these commitments.

This summer, the Office of Management and Budget is also expected to release long-awaited guidance for federal agencies on the use and sourcing of AI technologies, leveraging the federal government’s status as a major customer to shape the industry.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his team are also developing policies to respond to cybersecurity risks associated with AI and coordinating with the G7 to establish international standards on AI.

Senior administration officials declined to divulge details of any other upcoming executive orders, but said they expected more action during the summer months.

It is a matter of great urgency, Prabhakar said in an interview. He is very active, very concentrated. People move faster than usual.

Several people familiar with the White House’s work have also credited Zients, who is steeped in the tech sector and whose February arrival coincided with the ChatGPT explosion, with ramping up the White House. A senior administration official called it an accelerator of efforts.

What is clear is that White House officials aren’t starting from scratch, building instead on their 73-page draft for an AI Bill of Rights released in October, which officials have called a foundation for the AI’s approach. administration to AI policy. Officials are also leaning on the risk management framework released earlier this year by the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

This year, Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to eradicate bias in artificial technologies used by the federal government and combat algorithmic discrimination, and the administration announced $140 million to launch new AI research institutes .

I think what GPT Chat has done is democratize fear and spread concerns much more visibly and broadly so that people who have been paying attention to this are aware, but not the general public, said Suresh Venkatasubramanian, an artificial intelligence researcher at Brown University who worked in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy until last summer. Once that happened, I think all of Congress and the White House went into motion thinking about this.

That fear is something Biden referred to directly, telling AI leaders who met with Harris and senior White House officials last month that what you’re doing has enormous potential and enormous danger.

“I don’t think there has been as fundamental a potential technological shift in the history of human activity as that presented by artificial intelligence,” Biden said at a news conference earlier this month. It’s astounding. It’s astounding.

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