Technology

White House releases ‘AI Bill of Rights’ blueprint

This May 18, 2021, photo shows a person typing on a laptop on a train in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The White House is urging technology companies to develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems with options for users to opt out of using them and with discrimination protections in mind, according to a blueprint for an “AI Bill of Rights” the administration released Tuesday. 

The blueprint lays out five core protections the administration said Americans should be entitled to as companies increasingly use automated technologies that impact Americans’ daily lives. 

The AI Bill of Rights includes nonbinding proposals without enforcement mechanisms tied to them, though, meaning it lays out a framework for companies to choose to adopt or ignore.

One of the core principles states that users are entitled to alternative options to AI systems, including ones allowing them to opt out “where appropriate” and have a human alternative. The administration’s plan says that in some cases, a human or other alternative “may be required by law.” 

Reliance on automated systems for processes such as content moderation online has been a controversial topic, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle slamming companies over how they choose to remove or keep content online. Republicans have criticized companies for taking too much content down, whereas Democrats have criticized them for not taking a tough enough stance against hate speech or misinformation online. 

But relying more heavily on humans for moderating content would be more expensive for companies than automated alternatives. 

Another principle laid out in the blueprint calls for algorithmic discrimination protections.

“You should not face discrimination by algorithms and systems should be used and designed in an equitable way,” the blueprint states. 

The plan calls for designers, developers and deployers of automated systems to take “proactive and continuous measures” to protect individuals and communities from algorithmic discrimination. 

Other principles the AI Bill of Rights blueprint laid out are a push for safe and effective systems, a focus on built-in data privacy protections and the inclusion of a notice and explanation about the automated systems being used and how they contribute to users. 

“Automated technologies are driving remarkable innovations and shaping important decisions that impact people’s rights, opportunities, and access. The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights is for everyone who interacts daily with these powerful technologies — and every person whose life has been altered by unaccountable algorithms,” Alondra Nelson, the deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy.

“The practices laid out in the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights aren’t just aspirational; they are achievable and urgently necessary to build technologies and a society that works for all of us,” Nelson added. 

The blueprint was released as Congress mulls legislative options to force tech companies to be more transparent about their policies and practices. 

There has been a push in Congress to require companies to disclose more information about their algorithms, as well as to pass a comprehensive federal data privacy bill.

Tags AI bill of rights Artificial intelligence
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