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Civil society groups urge White House to make AI guidelines into binding policy

The White House is facing a call from a coalition of civil society groups to make its proposed guidelines for artificial intelligence (AI) regulation into binding policy as part of a forthcoming executive order, according to a letter sent Thursday. 

The coalition of civil, technology and human rights organizations sent a letter to the White House urging the Biden administration to make the AI Bill of Rights, which the administration released a blueprint for in October, into binding government policy on the use of AI by federal agencies, contractors and federal grant recipients. 

“Simply put, the federal government should not use an AI system unless it is shown to be effective, safe, and nondiscriminatory. AI should work, and work for everyone,” the letter stated. 

The letter follows the White House last month saying it is developing an executive order related to responsible AI innovation. 

The blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights lays out guidelines for the booming industry. It is one of several steps the administration has taken to set in motion regulation for AI.

Last month, the administration said it secured voluntary commitments aimed at managing risks posed by AI from seven top companies, including Google, Microsoft and OpenAI. 

But the lack of binding commitments leaves guardrails largely up to the tech industry to set for itself. 

The letter is signed by nine groups, including the Center for American Progress, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 

The groups said the new executive order should direct the executive brand to “immediately implement the AI Bill of Rights for federal agencies, contractors and grantees. As the largest employer in the country, the groups wrote the federal government has “enormous ability to shape the emerging AI policy and business landscape.” 

The requirement for federal agencies should extend toward law enforcement and the national security community, the groups wrote. 

“The forthcoming AI EO presents a clear opportunity to implement the White House’s own AI Bill of Rights. We urge you not to miss this critical chance to operationalize the values your administration has uplifted,” they wrote. 

At the same time as the White House weighs action, Congress is also considering how to regulate AI. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) revealed a framework for AI policy and organized briefings for senators on risks and opportunities from AI, but no clear regulatory package has yet emerged. 

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