All Artificial Hands on Deck

by JPeters | November 15, 2023 11:00 am

The President’s recent Executive Order on AI mobilizes the federal government for action, and has implications for employers

President Biden’s recent Executive Order[1] (EO)— entitled the “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence” — is wide-ranging in scope and ambitious in its goals. It is also a much-needed starting point for framing our rapidly evolving national — and international — discussion on this topic. 

The EO, published in the Federal Register on November 1, 2023, is just the latest in a series of initiatives over the past year reflecting concern at the White House and in Congress about AI technology. Last October, the administration released its Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights[2], which outlines how the federal government is approaching the regulation of AI from a policy perspective. The intent of the Blueprint is to “help guide the design, use, and deployment of automated systems to protect the American Public.” It is aimed at the corporate developers of AI technology — entities who aren’t accustomed to having restrictions placed on their activities.  

This most recent EO focuses on establishing guidelines, standards, and best practices to ensure AI safety and security throughout the development and deployment process while adding details about how federal agencies will accomplish this herculean task in the coming months.  

Biden also signed Executive Order 14091[3] in February 2023, directing federal agencies to “root out bias in artificial technologies used by the federal government and combat algorithmic discrimination.” To accomplish this goal, the Executive Order included $140 million for the National Science Foundation[4] (NSF) to use to create AI research institutes[5] across the country.  

These recently established AI Institutes are currently conducting foundational AI research that promotes the development of “ethical and trustworthy AI systems and technologies.” The AI Institutes are also charged with developing novel approaches to cybersecurity, contributing innovative solutions to climate change, expanding our understanding of the brain, and leveraging AI capabilities to enhance education and public health. In addition, the Institutes are conducting research to support the development of a diverse AI workforce “to address the risks and potential harms posed by AI.”  

However, it was the launch of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022 — and its universal (it’s free!) availability— that has made the regulation of generative AI systems a central and urgent priority at the White House. With ChatGPT, the concern about AI technology became public in a way it had never been before. Anyone who has experimented with ChatGPT can quickly see both its exciting potential usefulness and its alarming potential for abuse. 

A massive regulatory effort 

Broadly summarized, the President’s newest EO directs agencies across the federal government to immediately begin working on best practices and regulations to promote AI safety, cybersecurity, privacy, fairness, and competition. Guidance for how the White House expects agencies to accomplish this is outlined in eight sections, each focused on a different area of operational concern: ensuring the safety and security of AI technology; promoting innovation and competition; supporting workers; advancing equity and civil rights; protecting consumers, patients, passengers, and students; protecting privacy; advancing the federal use of AI; and strengthening American leadership abroad on this issue.  

Over the next year, various federal government agencies and departments will be developing guidance on the responsible use of AI in areas like criminal justice, education, health care, housing, and labor. Agencies will also establish guidelines that AI developers must follow as this evolving technology is built and deployed. New reporting and testing requirements for AI development companies are on the near horizon. 

The whole thing feels like an “all hands on deck” approach to getting up to speed on this issue. Government mobilization efforts on this scale are akin to President Franklin Roosevelt’s pre-war mobilization efforts during the 1930s.  

Below are a few of the highlights from each operative section of the President’s most recent EO:  

Ensuring Safety 

Promoting Innovation and Competition 

Protecting Privacy 

The President calls on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation to protect all Americans, especially children. The EO also directs several related federal actions, including: 

Supporting Workers 

Advancing Equity and Civil Rights 

Protecting Consumers, Patients, Passengers, and Students 

Advancing Federal Government Use of AI 

 Strengthening American Leadership Abroad  

Are you overwhelmed yet? 

This most recent Executive Order about AI presents a sweeping set of provisions for managing and benefiting from a technology most of us are still struggling to comprehend. The EO emphasizes safety and security throughout the document. Can the government successfully support innovation while simultaneously taking effective precautionary action? We shall see. 

Employers — and concerned individuals everywhere — must pay close attention as this AI regulatory drama unfolds in the months ahead. Different directives have different timelines, but most of the work articulated in this EO is to be completed and reported out by October 2024.  

“I don’t think ever in the history of human endeavor has there been as fundamental potential technological change as is presented by artificial intelligence,” Biden said at a news conference in early October. “It is staggering. It is staggering.” 


If you have any questions or concerns about the AI decision-making tools you are using now — or planning to implement soon — don’t hesitate to contact Orr & Reno for assistance. 


About the authors: Steven L. Winer[19] and Lindsay E. Nadeau [20]

  1. Executive Order:
  2. Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights:
  3. Executive Order 14091:
  4. National Science Foundation:
  5. AI research institutes:
  6. Defense Production Ac:
  7. National Institute of Standards and Technology:
  8. Department of Homeland Security:
  9. Sector Risk Management Agencies:
  10. Department of Health and Human Services:
  11. United States Patent and Trademark Office :
  12. Research Coordination Networks:
  13. Department of Labor :
  14. Nontraditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council:
  15. Federal Communications Commission:
  16. spectrum management:
  17. Office of Management and Budget:
  18. AI Risk Management Framework:
  19. Steven L. Winer:
  20. Lindsay E. Nadeau :

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