White House unveils artificial intelligence ‘bill of rights’


FILE – Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, speaks during an event at the Queen Theater, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) The Associated Press

The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious set of goals aimed at avoiding harm from the rise of artificial intelligence systems, including guidelines on how to protect people’s personal data and limit surveillance. .

The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights notably does not define specific enforcement measures, but rather is intended as a call to action from the White House for the US government to protect digital and civil rights in a world powered by AI. ‘IA, officials said.

“It is the Biden-Harris administration that is really saying that we need to work together, not just in government but across sectors, to really put equity at the center and civil rights at the center of the ways we make and use and govern technology,” said Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “We can and should expect better and demand better from our technologies.”

The bureau said the white paper represents a major step forward in the administration’s agenda to hold tech companies accountable, and highlighted commitments from various federal agencies to weigh the new rules and study the specific impacts of tech technologies. AI. The document emerged after a year-long consultation with more than two dozen different departments, and also incorporates feedback from civil society groups, technologists, industry researchers, and tech companies such as Palantir and Microsoft.

It highlights five fundamental principles that the White House says should be incorporated into AI systems to limit the impacts of algorithmic bias, give users control over their data, and ensure that automated systems are used in a safe and secure manner. transparent.

The non-binding principles cite academic research, agency studies and news reports that have documented real-world harm from AI-powered tools, including facial recognition tools that have contributed to wrongful arrests and a system automated that discriminates against loan applicants who witnessed a historically black event. College or university.

The white paper also said parents and social workers could benefit from knowing if child protection agencies use algorithms to help decide when families should be investigated for child abuse.

Earlier this year, after the publication of an AP review of an algorithmic tool used in a Pennsylvania child protection system, OSTP staff members contacted the sources cited in the article to inquire. know more, according to several people who participated in the call. The AP investigation found that the Allegheny County tool in its early years of operation showed a tendency to flag a disproportionate number of black children for a “mandatory” neglect investigation, compared to white children.

In May, sources said researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and staff from the American Civil Liberties Union spoke with OSTP officials about the use of algorithms by security agencies. child protection. Nelson said protecting children from technological harm remains a concern.

“If an automated tool or system disproportionately harms a vulnerable community, there should hopefully be levers and opportunities to address it through some of the specific applications and prescriptive suggestions “said Nelson, who also serves as deputy aide to President Joe Biden.

The OSTP did not provide additional comments on the May meeting.

Nevertheless, since many AI-powered tools are developed, adopted, or funded at the state and local level, the federal government has limited oversight regarding their use. The white paper makes no specific mention of how the Biden administration might influence specific policies at the state or local levels, but a senior administration official said the administration is exploring how to align federal grants with the guidelines. of AI.

The white paper has no power over the tech companies developing the tools and does not include any new legislative proposals. Nelson said agencies would continue to use existing rules to prevent automated systems from unfairly disadvantage people.

The white paper also did not specifically address AI-powered technologies funded by the Justice Department, whose Civil Rights Division has separately examined algorithmic harm, bias and discrimination, Nelson said.

Tucked between calls for greater oversight, the white paper also said that when properly implemented, AI systems have the power to bring lasting benefits to society, like helping farmers grow crops. food more efficiently or identify diseases.

“Powered by the power of American innovation, these tools have the potential to redefine every part of our society and improve the lives of everyone. This important progress must not come at the cost of civil rights or democratic values,” the document states.


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