While many digital rights advocates on Tuesday welcomed the Biden administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights as “an important first step” toward ensuring that artificial intelligence systems don’t erode civil liberties, others panned the voluntary guidelines as “toothless.”
The Biden administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy published the blueprint “to help guide the design, development, and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and other automated systems so that they protect the rights of the American public.”
The administration’s blueprint contains five key components: safe and effective systems, algorithmic discrimination protections, data privacy, notice and explanation during AI use, and alternative options and the ability to opt-out of automated systems.
“Automated technologies are increasingly used to make everyday decisions affecting people’s rights, opportunities, and access in everything from hiring and housing, to healthcare, education, and financial services,” the White House explained in a fact sheet.
“While these technologies can drive great innovations, like enabling early cancer detection or helping farmers grow food more efficiently, studies have shown how AI can display opportunities unequally or embed bias and discrimination in decision-making processes,” the document states.
“As a result,” it adds, “automated systems can replicate or deepen inequalities already present in society against ordinary people, underscoring the need for greater transparency, accountability, and privacy.”
The CEO of the advocacy group Center for Democracy & Technology, Alexandra Reeve Givens, said in a statement that the proposed bill of rights “marks an important step in recognizing the ways in which algorithmic systems can deepen inequality. It expresses expectations for safer and fairer data practices—something to which all entities developing and deploying AI systems should commit.”
“In particular, we commend the White House for considering the diverse ways in which discrimination can occur, for challenging inappropriate and irrelevant data uses, and for lifting up examples of practical steps that companies and agencies can take to reduce harm,” she added.
However, reaction to the president’s proposal was not all positive. Khari Johnson, a senior writer at Wired, called the blueprint “toothless against Big Tech.”
Johnson lamented that the blueprint “will not have the force of law—it’s a nonbinding white paper” that “primarily aims at the federal government.”
“It will change the use of algorithms only if it steers how government agencies acquire and deploy AI technology, or helps parents, workers, policymakers, or designers ask tough questions about AI systems,” he wrote. “It has no power over the large tech companies that arguably have the most power in shaping the deployment of machine learning and AI technology.”
Originally published at Commondreams.org.