Ep 75 What the New A.I. Executive Order Covers

blog Nov 01, 2023

In episode 75, we take a look at the new executive order, just signed to ensure safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence.

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You're listening to the remote work retirement show. I'm your host, Camille Attell. And this is the only show that helps semi-retirees figure out the remote work options. I believe the remote work is the new retirement plan and that many retirees have both the ability and desire to work, how they want so they can live how they want.

Let's dig into today's episode.

Hello and happy November. If that's when you're listening. Typically I kick off a new month with a new topic, but if you listened to episode 74, you heard my artificial intelligence voice tell you that I had the flu. And while I'm back with my real voice today, I'm still not at a hundred percent. You might be able to hear just the tiniest bit of rasp.

I'll try to attempt down on that. Also, I'm about one topic behind where I wanted to be for a couple of reasons. One, I had the flu and I didn't want you to listen to my AI voice for an entire 20 minute-plus episode. So I kept that one short. And the second reason is something big, really just happened yesterday.

And I want to talk about it. So I'm two episodes behind where I wanted to be, which means I'm going to carry this topic of AI into this month. Now, maybe you're listening for the first time and none of this means anything to you and maybe you're excited about it, but I know that there are some people who had hoped that I would be talking about how to write a good AI prompt. All around prompt engineering, because I've been talking about doing this for a couple of weeks now. But I promise you, I promise you I will do that next week.

Even if something else big happens. But the reason why I wanted to talk about this today is because on October 30th, President Biden signed a new executive order to create a safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence.

That's the title of the order. And because this is so fresh, I know that many people are concerned about the harms of AI. It seems important to talk about this in today's episode.

And so I want to share with you at a high level, what this new executive order around AI does, what it says and, what I think it means. And I'm not going to read it to you verbatim because you know, let's just executive speak. I will give you the main points and then I'll link directly to the brief in the show notes, in case you want to read it for yourself, it's not very long.

And I think it is worth your time to read it. Especially if you're someone who is involved in AI, Or her, I guess I should say the flip side, avoiding it, avoiding AI and not doing anything because you're concerned about it. And I know that many people are concerned about it because they tell me, people write me emails. People send me messages on social media telling me they don't, they won't touch it with a 10-foot pole. My dad and I were having a conversation yesterday and I'm helping him get his flute lessons and saxophone lessons back online. And I said, have you tried using chatty PT or Canva or any of the tools that can help you do this faster?

His response was AI is just going to ruin the world. And then we had this big philosophical talk. So again, all of this tells me that this is a really important topic that, um, I wanted, I wanted to put in front of you right away. So again, I'll link to the brief. You can go read it and then you can make your own, um, judgments about what you think about it. So I want to start with why he signed this executive order, and then I will tell you what it covers at a high level, and some of the details inside of it. So he signed this order because a lot of people, including people who invented AI have been sounding the alarm bells about what the potential harms are. And now I haven't talked as much about the harms of AI as I have about the exciting innovations with AI.

And the reason for that is I run a business and AI has completely transformed my business for the better. I'm able to take ideas right out of my head and execute them much faster than I ever could. I'm able to serve people better. I'm able to, uh, respond to people quicker because of tools like chatty GPT, et cetera. And I'm not using AI to replace me or replace the people who work in my business.

Those people are necessary. And I'm necessary. A lot of the people that I serve, but I am using AI to augment the speed at which I can to get things done. Also, I'm using it to reduce the mental capacity that it requires sometimes in my business that I just don't have. So, you know, I've been talking about that along with how AI can help the older generation. Because it makes tasks so much easier.

I've been talking about how it can help people to be able to work in different places, maybe people who are health compromised, I could go on and on about what I think the benefits are, but there are definitely, definitely harms. In fact, um, there's a fantastic documentary called coded bias. That talks about the harms of facial recognition.

There's an organization that I belong to called the Algorithmic Justice League. I'm a paying member and they do research finding bias in AI. So there's a lot of arguments on both sides of this. And I haven't spent as much time on the harm. And so that's another reason why Biden moved quickly to sign this executive order because people are talking about the harms. We have seen these things in action.

If you're paying attention to news stories about AI, you've probably seen things called deep fakes. These are videos that people make of maybe celebrities or other people using their likeness and their voices to produce. Produce videos that could be misleading. You've had popular celebrities like Sarah Silverman, try to file lawsuits.

She's a comedian by the way who has filed lawsuits because she feels like, you know, AI has stolen her work. You probably saw the strikes in Hollywood because you know, um, writers are concerned about AI taking their jobs and they did win a little bit. And so, you know, there's a lot, not only happening, but it's moving very, very quickly and therefore Biden needed to work quickly to sign an executive order rather than going through maybe the normal channels of trying to get some giant legislation passed and get everyone to agree on that.

I mean, honestly, let's be real that probably would have taken, you know, two years in a whole bunch of failures. Um, now him signing an executive order doesn't necessarily guarantee that that's going to work either, but I do think it is a step in the right direction. And right now, that's what we need. We need steps in the right direction to put controls and some regulation around AI.

So let's talk about what this executive order covers at a high level.

I do want to at least read you the top fairly short paragraph, just so you have some context and then I'll go through each of the, I guess I'll call them categories that this is meant to cover. So it says today President Biden is issuing a landmark executive order to ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence. The executive order establishes new standards for AI safety and security. Protects Americans' privacy and advances equity and civil rights. Stands up for consumers and workers promotes innovation and competition advances, American leadership around the world and more. So, wow.

Rather lofty. In my opinion. So here are the categories that it's going to cover. Number one, new standards for AI safety and security. Next up we have the protection of Americans' privacy. Then we have advancing equity and civil rights. Next standing up for consumers, patients, and students. Then we have supporting workers. Promoting innovation and competition is the next one. Advancing American leadership abroad is probably a controversial one right now ensuring responsible and effective government use of AI.

So, wow. Quite a bit here. So let me back up, start with that first one, and give you some of the high points. So in the category of new standards for AI safety insecurity here, kind are of the key points around that.

So there are a couple of things in here that I think will be important for people listening to the show today. While it does this particular aspect of it does focus most on the developers of AI, making sure that they are using standards, tools, and tests to ensure that the systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy. There are some other things in here around protecting Americans from AI-enabled fraud and deception, those phone calls that people are worried about, where there might be an AI voice that sounds real. So this section is meant to tamp down on that. There are also some other things around cybersecurity and protecting vulnerabilities in software. There are some other things in here that are interesting around AI engineers preventing AI engineers from developing biological materials using AI.

So again, I will link to the whole brief, so you can read all the details for yourself because there's a lot more depth there. In terms of protecting American's privacy. This one mostly focuses on a bi-partisan. Approach to privacy around all Americans, but especially kids. And I think this is so important because there, there has been a lot of talk around protecting kids from social media and we've definitely failed on that front in a lot of ways. And it's just going to get harder with AI.

And so there are, hopefully, some safeguards in place to protect kids. And there's a lot more here around how they're going to do research, and how information gets collected is also another one. That's important. And then they talk about protecting federal agency information and data as well in that particular category, again, that's around protecting Americans privacy. This next one is around advancing equity and civil rights.

I'm really happy to see this here because I don't think this gets talked about enough. And what this is all about. And this is what I alluded to earlier in this episode. And that is that there are biases and discrimination built into these systems sometimes unconsciously because the person building these systems, maybe wasn't conscious of their bias, but sometimes that gets consciously built into this system. You know, there's a lot of talk out there about facial recognition.

As I mentioned earlier we've seen cases where it may be. Some people have been denied access to say being able to rent an apartment because of some sort of facial recognition having to do with race. I believe that there is a concern around currently around how AI and algorithms discriminate against older workers. You know, a bot might see when you graduated from college and maybe for some of the people I serve that might be in the seventies or the eighties or the sixties.

Right. And so if a bot picks up on that and immediately discriminates against age, that's a real problem. And so this part of the executive order talks about that. Now it doesn't talk about it enough in my opinion, but I do think at least it's a starting point and it also talks about fairness throughout the criminal justice system as well.

So I would like to see where this goes. The next one is all around, standing up for consumers, patients, and students. And this is again around, you know, what are, what are the safeguards we need to put in place around healthcare, around education. Around consumer protection.

Again, I'll link to the brief so that you can read that for yourself.

The next category is all around supporting workers, which of course is near and dear to my heart. I mean, this is what I do is all about workforce advocacy. This one talks about mitigating the risks and supporting workers' ability to bargain collectively, invest in workforce training and development, and make it accessible by all that all sounds good. It talks about mitigating the harms while also maximizing the benefits.

Let me spend a little more time on the detail on this one, since it is again, so important to me, this is all about saving jobs. This is about not allowing AI to displace workers and replace them with AI. This is about workplace equity, health, and safety. It's all around data collection in the workplace.

Also, I should say, making sure that workers are compensated fairly. Um, looking at the fairness in job applications, and this is something I just mentioned. There's there's a lot more to this one. I mean, it's pretty meaty. It seems like it covers a lot. And I guess if I want to be balanced in my opinion on this one, it feels a little bit like they're kind of working some things in that are not completely AI. Sounds like there's a whole bunch of unionizing here, which is not a bad thing.

And I think Hollywood led the way on the next one. Related to this category is that they want to see some reporting on this. They want to know how labor markets are being impacted. Are people really losing their jobs to AI? They want to study those reports and then they want to hopefully, figure out some solutions.

So this all sounds great. But my goodness, I'm not even done with all the categories here. And it already sounds like a lot of committees are going to have to create, to tackle all of these things. The next category is around promoting innovation and competition.

And this one is so interesting because up until this point, it's all been, you know, the big theme has been like. Let's crack down on AI. And then we get to this one and it's like, Hey, let's use AI for innovation and competition. So that'll be interesting. How are we going to walk the line between these two big themes?

At least that's how I see these themes. So this one is talking about how we conduct AI research broadly in the United States? This is talking about how we promote fair, open, and competitive AI ecosystems. So, I interpret that as how do we keep capitalism with AI, but also not discriminate and not have peoples' data breached and also not collect data on them. There are a whole bunch of things I could say there.

And then it's talking about how we use existing authorities to expand the ability of highly skilled immigrants and non-immigrants with expertise in critical areas to study, stay, and work in the United States. So I know some people hearing that one probably have different reactions to it, but again, aren't just here to report.

So, there's two left.

The next one is about advancing American leadership abroad. This one talks about expanding bilateral multilateral and multitask holder. Engagements to collaborate on AI. What the heck? So I think this one is getting a lot of different departments involved so that there's more, uh, collaboration across departments. To tackle some of these issues. And then it's talking about accelerating the AI standards.

So this one I think is good. We do need to accelerate standards because I can tell you as a small business owner, The way I use AI looks different than how my competitor uses AI. My competitor might use AI 100% of the time to crank out blog posts to come up with video avatars, maybe even make deep fakes. And I'm not going to do those things.

I'm going to use AI to offset my humanness. But that means I move slower and that other person is going to win in a competition potentially. Right. So without standards, I think it creates an unfair playing field. And when there's an unfair playing field, Who gets hurt: the consumers and the people who don't have a lot of money, quite frankly. Okay. the last one here is around using AI to solve global challenges. Wow.

There's a whole bunch of stuff in there now. Here's, what's good about that. People talking about really smart people, people way, way smart who are studying this on a whole different level than me, who talk about AI as advancement in the medical arena. AI with the ability to solve major diseases. Even predict diseases and then put things in place to prevent those diseases from happening. Curing cancer for example. There's so many things coming to my brain I can't even talk about them all at once. I should do a whole episode on how people in the medical industry are looking at how AI can improve, if not completely solve a number of health concerns. And that should be good news for a lot of people listening. Maybe for you personally, maybe for a loved one, who knows.

The last category here is ensuring responsible and effective government use of AI. So this is looking at what are the guidances for agencies using AI, helping agencies acquire specific AI products and services. And then accelerating the rapid hiring of AI professionals.

I said this brief wasn't long and it's not, but I think it's kind of dense. Like there's a lot packed in here. So again, I do think it's worth your read. Let me recap one more time. The categories are new standards for AI safety and security protecting Americans' privacy was number two. Number three advancing equity and civil rights.

Number four, standing up for consumers, patients, and students. Number five, supporting workers, number six, promoting innovation and competition. And number seven, advancing American leadership abroad. There, you have it. There are all the categories that the executive brief covers.

I hope you found this interesting. I tried to take some dry material and inject a little bit of my thoughts into it. Again, I think it's important that you form your own opinions. But here's the big takeaway that I started this episode with that I guess I'll end with as well. And that is, these are steps in the right direction. Even if you don't agree with everything in this executive order, even if you think it doesn't even go far enough. I think it's quite broad. You have to at least feel, I think hopeful that at least something's happening. Especially if you were someone who was very, very concerned about where AI is headed. At least you have some peace of mind that there is some movement around this. Now I will keep watch on it. I will come back to you with any updates as needed and, and keep you informed.

Okay, I'll see you next week when I will actually talk about how to write effective prompts for artificial intelligence.

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