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White House releases AI guidance for agencies

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Mar 28, 2024
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Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

OMB on Thursday issued government-wide policy for mitigating AI risks, a major part of President Biden's AI executive order.

Why it matters: Agencies across the federal government now have specific guidance on how to use AI in their work, and how to ward off its risks.

  • "President Biden and I intend that these domestic policies will serve as a model for global action," Vice President Kamala Harris said on a call with reporters.

As we noted in our deep dive Wednesday, this was one of the tasks due Thursday, 150 days since Biden issued his sweeping AI EO.

  • This OMB memo is the final version after a draft was released in November.
  • The White House said federal agencies completed all 150-day actions required in the EO.

What's inside: The guidance focuses on the privacy and safety of the public, transparency in processes and how AI can make government services easier to access, Harris said.

  • By Dec. 1, agencies must "implement concrete safeguards when using AI in a way that could impact Americans' rights of safety," per a White House fact sheet; that includes being able to opt out of things like TSA facial recognition.
  • Companies that want to contract with the federal government to sell their AI systems will have to meet certain specifications based on the guidance.

Transparency is a big focus. Agencies will have to release inventories and metrics of their AI use cases, along with making public government-owned AI code.

  • The guidance also encourages agencies to use AI to try to solve problems around climate change, public health and transportation safety by lifting some bureaucratic barriers.
  • It aggressively directs agencies to "upskill their AI talent" and includes a commitment to hire 100 AI professionals by this summer.

Our thought bubble: Agencies are going to be laboratories for how AI can be implemented in a major workforce touching all parts of the American economy.

  • Congress may be stalling on AI legislation, but it's clear the Biden administration thinks it can make its mark on how AI should be used in government.
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