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How the Biden admin’s approach to artificial intelligence (AI) will impact you

Think back to the start of the week. Have you sent a message to your kid’s teacher on a school app? Did you recently set a reminder for yourself using your phone’s digital assistant? Or maybe you found a new show to watch after a streaming platform recommended it for you. Maybe, like me, you track your fitness through a smart wearable device like an Apple Watch.

All of those technologies and platforms use Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Why should we focus on AI?

Well, because politicians and bureaucrats are. And if we don’t engage, the result could be disastrous.

More than 600 bills have been introduced in 2024 concerning Artificial Intelligence in the states, covering anything from anti-bias proposals that misunderstand how the technology works to legislation that stifles innovation and grows government bureaucracy.

The feds are getting in the game, too.

Unfortunately, the Biden Administration’s approach to AI to date has been less than stellar.

Back in October of last year, the Biden Administration unveiled a 100+ page executive order, essentially unleashing the federal bureaucrats on this new and emerging technology.

R Street Resident Senior Fellow Adam Thierer noted that Biden’s EO could “stifle America’s technology base” because it “will accelerate bureaucratic micro-management of crucial technologies that we need to be promoting, not punishing, as we begin a global race with China and other nations for supremacy in next-generation information and computational capabilities.”

Adding insult to injury, in order to accomplish this goal, President Biden evoked powers under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get it done.

What’s the DPA? I’m glad you asked!

The law is a Korean War era power meant to help the government during a time of war or emergency to prioritize government contracts and reorient supply chains as needed. Congressmen in the 1950s never envisioned that a future White House would try to apply its power to an emerging technology when no war or emergency is present.

Furthermore, the actions by President Biden to regulate an entire industry writ large via executive fiat is an attempt to sidestep the role that Congress plays in such matters.

American citizens shouldn’t have to guess at what their elected representatives are doing and why.

Immediately after the administration issued its executive order, we jumped into action. Americans for Prosperity Foundation submitted a documents request asking for details concerning what authorities the administration was leveraging under the DPA in such broad and intrusive ways as part of our Emergency Powers Reform Project. 

More than two months have gone by without a response. AFPF is still working to get answers. We’ve filed a lawsuit in an effort to gain transparency into the Administration’s authority and intentions of using the DPA in such novel ways.

This isn’t an abstract issue. If the U.S. gets this wrong, it’ll carry a big cost on our everyday lives. Brian Chau, the Executive Director of Alliance for the Future, shared:

All it takes for highly organized, well-funded extremists to win and impose unprecedented levels of control and censorship is for the majority of people to do nothing. Artificial Intelligence is the civil liberties, political fairness, and economic growth issue of the decade, if not the century. These extremists threaten the civil liberties of every American and the shared prosperity of our future. Now is the time to make it clear that for the vast majority of Americans, it is unacceptable to seize control of personal technology use by fiat, just because a few billionaires are kept up at night by science fiction.

Essentially, this is an expansion of some of the issues we saw raised in Murthy v. Missouri, where you had government jawboning of social media companies to take down content.

At least with social media, content made it out into the public domain. When it comes to AI, if the government has its way, your content might never even make it into the conversation.

The future of AI in the United States is not a given. As our friends at the Abundance Institute highlighted in a recent video, “progress is not inevitable”:

The United States is blessed to lead in this critical technology because it has had the right approach over the last several decades. Maintaining that leadership, however, relies on the United States not giving into the doomer vision of the technology and letting fear stymie progress.

Thank you for joining me to learn more about our tech-driven future, and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop on the latest developments in the work by AFP and AFPF to protect the bright future afforded to us by this promising technology.

— James Czerniawski

Senior Policy Analyst, Technology and Innovation

Americans for Prosperity Foundation

 

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