White House needs ‘soft’ approach to AI regulation, conservatives argue

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White House needs ‘soft’ approach to AI regulation, conservatives argue

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The White House and Congress are pushing more for regulations on artificial intelligence as the tool becomes more common with the public.

AI-powered software has grown more prominent in the last few months, with generative art and chatbots capturing the imagination of the internet and the public. The growing prominence of such technologies has caught the eye of the White House and Congress as they consider proposing ways to rein it in. Conservative policy experts believe regulations are necessary but cannot come at the cost of innovation.

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“We want to have some regulatory guardrails around that to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms” of AI, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow John Bailey told the Washington Examiner. He called for a greater understanding of what the harms of such technologies could be and what they could contribute in the future.

The White House released a plan for an “AI Bill of Rights” in December. The document established its priorities regarding rules and limits that needed to be passed. These included ensuring systems would not misuse user data, that the algorithm would not discriminate, that user data would be protected, and that users were aware of the algorithm and could opt out if desired.

While the document lays out clear principles for future enforcement, it remains driven primarily by fear of AI’s dangers rather than its possibilities. The Bill of Rights is a “blueprint for aspiring tech regulators and trial lawyers who hope to bottle up algorithmic innovations instead of helping to advance them,” R Street senior fellow Adam Thierer told the Washington Examiner. Thierer noted that the document was framed around AI’s possible technological threats rather than the advantages it may offer.

The document remains a series of guidelines and cannot be used to force companies to cooperate. Similar principles have been adopted by the departments of Defense, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and Human and Health Services. But the White House could adapt the Bill of Rights into an executive (or a larger) order.

Conservative policy experts argue that the Biden administration must take a looser approach to regulation to allow innovation. The administration should work with the private sector to adopt a more “soft law” approach, Americans for Prosperity senior policy analyst James Czerniawski said. He suggested that officials work with experts in the industry to establish best practices for using AI as well as understanding the limits of the technology.

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Congress is also considering at least one bill to regulate AI. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) had the AI chatbot ChatGPT write a piece of legislation in January on how to regulate AI. The bill outlined Congress’s “responsibility to ensure that the development and deployment of AI are done in a way that is safe, ethical, and respects the rights and privacy of all Americans.”

While the Biden administration is slowly trying to determine what direction it should take, states are stepping up. At least 17 states saw the introduction of AI bills or resolutions in 2022. These include task forces to study AI and additional resources for local officials to begin their own investigations into the software.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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