This week, the White House unveiled an AI “Bill of Rights” aimed at preventing possible harms that came come as AI-powered technology continues to grow in every sector of the economy. The announcement also included new guidelines aimed at protecting the personal data of individuals and a limit on surveillance.
With no actionable or enforcement mechanisms, The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights is aimed as a call to action for departments within the federal government to begin looking into how the emerging technology can affect individual liberty and how the U.S. government can act to protect civil rights in a digital world. Over the years, new tracking technology and data have been harvested, used, and traded by private companies in order to improve market performance and more the aim of advertisements at customers they believe will convent, though these technologies have also come with a bit of controversy.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy stated, “This is the Biden-Harris administration really saying that we need to work together, not only just across government, but across all sectors, to really put equity at the center and civil rights at the center of the ways that we make and use and govern technologies… We can and should expect better and demand better from our technologies.”
The Office of Science and Technology Policy said that the AI Bill of Rights is also a step forward in holding private companies accountable to private citizens and how their data is used & stored. It also pointed to how different departments are studying new rules focused on AI’s impact on both society and the lives of citizens. This paper comes after a year of study with feedback from a variety of civil rights groups, technologies, industry researchers, and even tech companies such as Microsoft.
But the AI Bill of Rights doesn’t stop there. It also encourages companies to a new set of “core principles” that the White House says should be included in every artificial intelligence system. The purpose of these principles is as follows. Expand user control of their data and limit algorithmic bias. Though non-binding, these principles point to research done in the academic realm, department studies and even news stories that have documented the harm AI can produce if left unchecked. Much of these cases revolve around facial recognition, automated systems, and other tools.
Though the white paper shines the light on concerns related to the growth of AI in society, it also points to the benefits the technology can bring to society and how AI-powered tools can improve human quality of life. As the paper states, “Fueled by the power of American innovation, these tools hold the potential to redefine every part of our society and make life better for everyone. This important progress must not come at the price of civil rights or democratic values.”