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Draft AI executive order features civil rights, immigration

Illustration of a computer keyboard with keys colored like the American flag.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Government agencies will be required to bolster their efforts to counter algorithmic bias while using AI systems, according to a draft copy of the White House's artificial intelligence executive order obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The long-awaited executive order is the most significant move yet from the Biden administration on AI and attempts to set new standards for the technology’s use.

What's happening: "My Administration will build on the important steps that have already been taken … in seeking to ensure that AI complies with all Federal laws and to promote robust technical evaluations, careful oversight, engagement with affected communities, and rigorous regulation," the draft states.

  • The Labor Secretary will be required to publish guidance for contractors regarding nondiscrimination in hiring involving AI and other technology-based hiring systems.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "are encouraged, as they deem appropriate" to evaluate their underwriting models for bias and automate processes in ways that minimize bias.
  • The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is required to issue guidance addressing the use of tenant screening systems in ways that may violate the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act or other federal laws.
  • The draft also calls for modernizing immigration pathways for experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies, including potentially overhauling the H1-B program.

What else caught our eye: Until the Commerce Secretary completes an evaluation of the technical conditions, AI models with high compute power would be considered malicious if they require over a certain amount of computing power, the draft EO states.

Flashback: The EO, expected to be issued Monday, builds on AI companies signing voluntary commitments to build responsible AI.

  • The White House has been fielding pressure from dozens of organizations who want to see the AI Bill of Rights binding policy for the government's use of AI.

What's next: Organizations and companies will have a lengthy executive order — over 100 pages, per the Oct. 23 draft seen by Axios — to sift through to see if the administration met their demands.

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