Researchers at the nonpartisan science think tank support Biden’s executive order on the use of artificial intelligence in government
Washington, DC – October 30, 2023 – Saying that action is urgent and necessary, researchers at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) state their approval of today’s Executive Order (EO) on the federal government’s use of artificial intelligence (AI). The EO, signed by President Biden this morning, directs federal departments and agencies to assess their AI workforce requirements and preparedness to deploy AI tools and secure against threats. The EO mandates that within six months of the EO release certain agencies (DoD, DHS, DOE, NSA, CIA, FBI) submit assessments to the president on how AI capabilities could be leveraged within government. Additional provisions include high-skilled immigration, cybersecurity, and red-teaming requirements for Large Language Models (LLMs) before they can be used by federal workers. Also introduced is AI.gov, intended to be the key landing page for the government on AI issues and serve as a one-stop shop for all things AI, including workforce training related efforts.
“We applaud the Biden Administration for taking action to direct the development and use of this critical technology to the best outcomes,” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS. “Our organization was founded in 1945 when scientists understood the tremendous ramifications of atomic energy; while we don’t think AI represents that kind of existential threat, we do see AI as a rapidly evolving technology with massive societal implications that demands the public’s attention now, especially when applied to government services.”
He continues: “We are pleased to see the provisions outlined in this comprehensive executive order as a significant step in the right direction. This landmark document recognizes not only the pivotal role AI and advanced technologies play in shaping our future but also the absolute importance of nurturing the human minds behind these fields.”
Key provisions in the EO include: bolstering AI capabilities and defenses within the federal government; building up the federal AI workforce; attracting and retaining foreign AI talent; red-teaming requirements before AI capabilities can be used by the government; and a “know your customer” framework similar to others used in cloud computing. Also included is a provision for ongoing public comment regarding open source LLMs as the technology evolves.
“The inclusion of red teaming exercises and guidance to agencies on using powerful AI models demonstrate a proactive and prudent stance towards managing risks and rewards,” says Divyansh Kaushik, associate director of Emerging Technologies and National Security at FAS. “This intersectional approach ensures we uphold safety while pushing the frontiers of knowledge.
In essence, this executive order unequivocally underscores the tight-knit relationship between technology and national security, reinforcing its commitment to harnessing science for technological prowess and societal well-being. As we watch these policies unfold, we are hopeful that they will serve as a beacon attracting advancements in AI and emerging technologies, paving the way for a stronger, more prosperous future.”
Kaushik goes on to explain that focusing on immigration parameters to support technology expertise influx—with initiatives like H1-B modernization, J1 skills list updates, and domestic visa revalidation—bolsters America’s ability to attract and retain global talent.
The EO is expected to serve as a sign that the United States is setting the standard for AI use that allies and partners can emulate. This week President Harris and Commerce Secretary Raimondo are scheduled to travel to the UK for an AI Safety Summit on November 1 – 2. The Vice President is planning to deliver a major address around AI policy.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.
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