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From ChatGPT to executive orders: The White House’s urgent effort to regulate artificial intelligence.

Early in April, President Joe Biden and a few of his closest advisors huddled in the Oval Office as an assistant typed directions into ChatGPT: summarize the Supreme Court’s New Jersey v. Delaware verdict and make it into a Bruce Springsteen song.

The case, which concentrated on rights to the Delaware River, also gave Biden’s home state a claim to The Boss, Biden quipped to Springsteen at the National Medal of the Arts event a few weeks ago. The president could now watch as the AI chatbot began writing the lyrics in a Bruce Springsteen manner almost instantly.

The president, like many other Americans who have tried ChatGPT, was impressed.

Attendees included his chief of staff, Jeff Zients, deputy chief of staff, Bruce Reed, and senior science adviser, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, who all agreed that AI should be a high priority for the administration.

The public’s awareness of artificial intelligence was catapulted by the ChatGPT explosion a few weeks earlier, leading to a flurry of hearings on Capitol Hill where experts in the AI business both lauded its revolutionary potential and warned of “the risk of extinction from AI.”

The increased focus on AI thanks to ChatGPT helped push the topic from the fringes to the center of attention at the White House.

The AI policy community applauds the initiative’s promptness. Advisors to the White House on AI policy have expressed worry that the administration is not giving AI policy enough attention, despite the fact that the White House built an important foundation last year with its Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. According to the same sources, it’s obvious the White House is ramping up to face the challenge.

According to one AI expert on the National Advisory Committee, “If we had this talk six months ago, my answers would be very different from what they are today,” he said, alluding to the fact that ChatGPT has been a “wake-up call” for the federal government since it went viral.

Since the beginning of the spring, the White House chief of staff’s office has been coordinating biweekly or weekly meetings of senior administration officials to promote work on AI policy. These meetings focus on a wide range of issues related to AI, from disinformation and cybersecurity to economic change and equity. Artificial intelligence is now often discussed in Biden’s top-level advisory team’s weekly Saturday strategy meetings.

Biden met with a group of AI specialists and academics in San Francisco on Tuesday to receive a non-industry perspective on the risks and prospects of AI, following his attendance at a gathering of leading AI CEOs at the White House last month.

Biden has shown interest in hearing from AI specialists in order to learn more about the “risks” and “promise” of the technology. “I want to hear directly from the experts,” he stated. The vice president, Kamala Harris, will host a symposium on AI next month with a focus on safeguarding consumers, he said.

To make the most of the current restrictions on AI, to harness its potential, and to build new guardrails for the emerging, multifaceted technology, officials say they have been hastily laying the framework for multiple legislative steps that will be presented this summer, including presidential orders.

You can’t spend years trying to understand or control this field. Weeks should be used as a time unit. Time is of the essence right now. If one waits too long to take action, they will fall behind and the technology will have moved on without them. Therefore, we must move swiftly and decisively, using all the tools at our disposal, to maximize the desired effect while limiting undesirable side effects. White House Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients

The failure to regulate social media early on is especially looming large in the minds of officials, who are aware of Washington’s dismal track record of rapidly confronting massive technological change. This time around, the majority of the top AI companies are calling on Washington to regulate their business, each with their own unique proposal and motivation.

While top administration officials agree that new laws would be required to address certain features and problems with AI, they also feel that they can and should begin to construct the regulatory environment through executive action.

According to a senior administration source, one of the jobs authorities have already begun is compiling a comprehensive inventory of existing government regulations that may be applied to AI and determining where new regulations need to be drafted to cover the gaps.

According to a senior administration official, major players in the AI industry like Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI will announce privacy and safety commitments next month that were developed in tandem with the White House. The official also stated that the federal government will use “appropriate methods to ensure companies live up to these commitments.”

Since the federal government is a major customer in the AI business, the Office of Management and Budget is scheduled to issue long-awaited recommendations for federal agencies this summer about the usage and procurement of AI technologies.

The office of national security adviser Jake Sullivan is working on establishing international guidelines for AI in coordination with the Group of Seven.

Top administration officials wouldn’t comment on what other executive orders were on the horizon, but they did say more will be issued during the summer.

Prabhakar stated, “It’s a matter of great urgency,” when asked about the situation. It’s intense and purposeful in its activity. People are moving much more quickly than usual.

Zients, who has extensive experience in the technology industry and whose February appointment at the White House coincided with the ChatGPT surge, has been acknowledged by multiple sources as the driving force behind the White House’s recent uptick in activity. He was called a “accelerator” by one high-ranking administration official.

Officials have stated that the 73-page Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights produced in October will serve as the basis for the administration’s approach to AI policy, so it is obvious that the White House is not starting from zero. The risk management methodology published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the Department of Commerce is also being used.

The administration has promised $140 million to establish new AI research institutes, and President Joe Biden has signed an executive order mandating the elimination of prejudice from all federally-used artificial technologies and the fight against algorithmic discrimination.

“The dread was democratized, and concerns were broadcast to a wider audience, thanks to Chat GPT, in my opinion,” said Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a Brown University AI expert who most recently acted as an official in the Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. “Once that happened, I think Congress and the White House moved quickly to think about this problem.”

Biden has talked directly about this fear. Last month, he told AI leaders who met with Harris and top White House officials that “what you’re doing has both huge potential and huge risks.”

I don’t think there has ever been a time in human history when technology could change as much as it could with artificial intelligence. That is unbelievable. This is very astounding. President Joe Biden

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