scroll to top arrow or icon

{{ subpage.title }}

Midjourney

Biden pushes forward on AI

Joe Biden is starting to walk the talk on artificial intelligence. Federal agencies have until December to get a handle on how to use — and minimize the risks from — AI, thanks to new instructions from the White House Office of Management and Budget. The policies mark the next step along the path laid out by Biden’s October AI executive order, adding specific goals after a period of evaluation.

What’s new

Federal agencies will need to “assess, test, and monitor” the impact of AI, “mitigate the risks of algorithmic discrimination,” and provide “transparency into how the government uses AI.”

It’s unclear to what extent AI currently factors into government work. The Defense Department already has key AI investments, while other agencies may only be toying with the new technology. Under Biden’s new rules, agencies seeking to use AI must create an “impact assessment” for the tools they use, conduct real-world testing before deployment, obtain independent evaluation from an oversight board or another body, do regular monitoring and risk-assessment, and work to mitigate any associated risks.

Adam Conner, vice president of technology policy at the Center for American Progress, says that the OMB guidance is “an important step in articulating that AI should be used by federal agencies in a responsible way.”

The OMB policy isn’t solely aimed at protecting against AI’s harms. It mandates that federal agencies name a Chief AI Officer charged with implementing the new standards. These new government AI czars are meant to work across agencies, coordinate the administration’s AI goals, and remove barriers to innovation within government.

What it means

Dev Saxena, director of Eurasia Group's geo-technology practice, said the policies are “precedent-setting,” especially in the absence of comprehensive artificial intelligence legislation like the one the European Union recently passed.

Saxena noted that the policies will move the government further along than industry in terms of safety and transparency standards for AI since there’s no federal law governing this technology specifically. While many industry leaders have cooperated with the Biden administration and signed a voluntary pledge to manage the risks of AI, the new OMB policies could also serve as a form of “soft law” to force higher standards of testing, risk-assessment, and transparency for the private sector if they want to sell their technology and services to the federal government.

However, there’s a notable carveout for the national security and defense agencies, which could be targets for the most dangerous and insidious uses of AI. We’ve previously written about America’s AI militarization and goal of maintaining a strategic advantage over rivals such as China. While they’re exempted from these new rules, a separate track of defense and national-security guidelines are expected to come later this year.

Fears and concerns

Still, public interest groups are concerned about the ways in which the citizens’ liberties could be curtailed when the government uses AI. The American Civil Liberties Union called on governments to do more to protect citizens from AI. “OMB has taken an important step, but only a step, in protecting us from abuses by AI. Federal uses of AI should not be permitted to undermine rights and safety, but harmful and discriminatory uses of AI by national security agencies, state governments, and more remain largely unchecked,” wrote Cody Venzke, ACLU senior policy counsel, in a statement.

Of course, the biggest risk to the implementation of these policies is the upcoming presidential election. Former President Donald Trump, if reelected, might keep some of the policies aimed at China and other political adversaries, Saxena says, but could significantly pull back from the rights- and safety-focused protections.

Beyond the uncertainty of election season, the Biden administration has a real challenge going from zero to full speed. “The administration should be commended on its work so far,” Conner says, “but now comes the hard part: implementation.”

Jess Frampton

Bloodbaths vs. Patriots

In the traffic jam of elections that is 2024 – there are over 50 this year worldwide – the US is still the BelAZ 75710 mega hauler of elections, the biggest rig that carries more payload than any other on the political road. So when it tips over, it’s impossible to ignore. Everything matters about the US 2024 election, and we have to stay within the nonpartisan lines to avoid veering off-road.

So after Donald Trump gave a fiery speech in Ohio last weekend about an impending “bloodbath” if he’s not elected, it’s worth sorting through the carnage of coverage to see what he meant. “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole…” he said. “That’s going to be the least of it, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the country. That’ll be the least of it.”

Did he mean another civil war, as some thought? Or, more plausibly and as his campaign has claimed, did he say it in the context of the auto industry and his concerns about high tariffs from China and Mexico?

Read moreShow less

President Joe Biden riding around in a Hummer EV during a tour of the General Motors 'Factory ZERO' electric vehicle assembly plant, in Detroit, Michigan, back in 2021.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Biden boosts EVs with new tailpipe emissions rules

As goes the American car market, so goes the world. Or at least large swathes of North America. With the Biden administration’s latest auto regulations, that may mean electric vehicles pull ahead as those with internal combustion engines.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden introduced tailpipe pollution limits that require automakers to reduce carbon emissions from their vehicles by 56% by 2032 based on 2026 levels.

Read moreShow less

President Joe Biden during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

Miriam Alster/Reuters

Is the US-Israel relationship on the rocks?

The White House seems increasingly fed up with Israel’s approach to its war against Hamas. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken – who’s set to visit the region again this week in ongoing efforts to secure another cease-fire – warned that all of Gaza faces “severe” food insecurity.

Read moreShow less
Jess Frampton

Biden and Trudeau face headwinds … from Gaza

Last Thursday, after Joe Biden promised during his State of the Union to build a pier to deliver aid to Gaza, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet shook the president’s hand, congratulated him on the speech, and urged him to push Israel to do more on “humanitarian stuff.”

Biden, caught on a hot mic, nodded in agreement and said he was pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I told him, Bibi, don’t repeat this, but we are going to have a come-to-Jesus meeting.”

Read moreShow less

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson holds a press conference at Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 14, 2024.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

House launches bipartisan AI task force

US House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday announced the formation of a bipartisan 24-member task force charged with studying the actions Congress will need to take to both protect consumers and foster innovation.
Read moreShow less

President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk to the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, September 21, 2023, in Washington, DC, USA.

Evan Vucci/REUTERS

White House: Money for Ukraine is running low

The Biden administration on Monday warned Congress that it’s on the verge of running out of money to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, imploring lawmakers to act before the end of the year. In a letter to congressional leaders, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young emphasized that if US aid stopped flowing it would “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield” and increase the “likelihood of Russian military victories.”

Read moreShow less
Courtesy of Midjourney

Enter the chip wars

The Biden administration is desperately trying to halt the outflow of US-made semiconductors, aka chips, to China.

Chips have always been key to each country’s economy — a still-nagging chip shortage has led to manufacturing holdups for new cars, video game consoles, and home appliances since early 2020. But higher-powered chips are also necessary in the race toward superior artificial intelligence capability. It’s a situation that could lead to major ramifications for both consumer tools and military technology. The United States still maintains an edge over China, but the stakes feel higher than ever.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily

Latest