President Biden’s Executive Order on AI: A step forward

October 31, 2023

On October 30th, 2023, President Biden issued the Executive Order for Safe, Secure and Trustworthy AI. This order establishes new standards for AI—including guidance for safety and security, protections for Americans’ privacy, as well as guidelines to protect renters from discrimination and workers from surveillance, bias, and job displacement.

Catherine Bracy, Chief Executive Officer at TechEquity Collaborative, said:

“As AI has grown, we have become increasingly concerned over key elements that were missing in the conversation—primarily the voices of those deeply impacted by AI. AI is deeply human because of how it’s built and powered and also how it’s impacting real lives—from how people access housing to how we work today. 

This action recognizes that these voices are critical to ensuring that this technology empowers human flourishing rather than undermines it. 

We are encouraged by President Biden’s Executive Order for Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy AI, especially the focus on increased protections for workers and renters. We applaud the advocates and civil society leaders who pushed to have the people who are most affected by AI at the center of the conversation on how to regulate it. This action recognizes that these voices are critical to ensuring that this technology empowers human flourishing rather than undermines it. 

We hope this executive order creates an opportunity to shine a light on the working conditions of the humans working within the AI supply chain—in the US and globally—who develop, train, and moderate the tools and products that are rapidly becoming a critical element of our economy and society. The federal government has a unique opportunity to utilize its reach and purchasing power to ensure that these products are not only safe for the public, but are also safe for the workers who are developing them. 

We know that policy is only as good as its implementation and enforcement. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and agencies across government to ensure the principles outlined in the executive order take root and are felt in the lives of everyday Americans.”

Over the last year, TechEquity Collaborative has joined partners and advocates in calling for increased AI regulation across automated worker surveillance and management, algorithmic tenant screening, for workers training these models, and its current applications in marginalized communities. We’re heartened to see that President Biden is encoding the AI Bill of Rights into actionable policy.

Our urgency around AI comes from the impacts we’ve seen in our research. Our Contract Worker Disparity Project illuminates the two-tiered workforce in tech, highlighting how contract workers (often disproportionately women and people of color) are more likely to get less pay, benefits, and protections, despite performing similar work to direct employees.

This employment model fuels the AI boom. We’ve spoken with contract workers who train the most buzzed-about tools on the market—developing transcription AI, moderating and training predictive language models like ChatGPT, strengthening search algorithms, and more. We featured these experiences in a recent article with Foxglove Legal for the Stanford Social Innovation Review

We’ve also investigated the role of tech in housing through our Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative. Without clear guardrails to ensure transparency and accountability, AI has the potential to exacerbate harms that already exist within our housing market and compound discrimination against our most vulnerable renters. We shed light on these harms in a report on the promise and perils of residential Proptech and combined these takeaways with HOME of Virginia’s first-hand experience counseling tenants in our comments submitted to the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this year.

Over the past two years, we’ve advanced policies in California to close these equity gaps. We know that we need to proactively build frameworks around AI; for the workers that it relies on and for the communities that it operates in.

By enacting people-first policy in California, we can shape AI practices at their source, creating ripple effects across borders and advancing our collective vision for responsible AI.

You can read the full executive order here.

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