White House science advisers call for AI ‘bill of rights’

Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy nominee and presidential science adviser Eric Lander speaks during an announcement in January
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Two of the White House’s top science advisers called for an artificial intelligence “bill of rights” in an opinion piece published Friday on Wired.

President Biden’s chief science adviser, Eric Lander, and the deputy director for science and society, Alondra Nelson, cautioned of the risks posed by technologies like facial recognition, automated translators and medical diagnosis algorithms.

Critics of the technology have said that the tools depend on data sets that are often biased in ways that replicate and amplify existing societal biases.

“Data sets that fail to represent American society can result in virtual assistants that don’t understand Southern accents; facial recognition technology that leads to wrongful, discriminatory arrests; and health care algorithms that discount the severity of kidney disease in African Americans, preventing people from getting kidney transplants,” Lander and Nelson wrote.

The two also cautioned about the potential security and privacy risks from the internet-enabled devices, from smart speakers to webcams. 

The influential advisers called for a set of rules using the Bill of Rights as a template to ensure that emerging technologies respect democratic values and treat everyone fairly.

“Enumerating the rights is just a first step,” they wrote. “What might we do to protect them? Possibilities include the federal government refusing to buy software or technology products that fail to respect these rights, requiring federal contractors to use technologies that adhere to this ‘bill of rights,’ or adopting new laws and regulations to fill gaps.”

The op-ed was published the same day that the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy launched a fact-finding mission to investigate biometric technologies that analyze human features to make recommendations.

Tags AI AI bill of rights Artificial intelligence Eric Lander facial recognition technology Joe Biden

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