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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration is exploring a "bill of rights" to govern facial recognition and other potentially harmful uses of artificial intelligence, but the problems AI poses are much bigger than figuring out how to regulate a new technology.

The big picture: There's no good way to regulate AI's role in shaping a fair and equitable society without deciding what that society should look like, including how power should be balanced among individuals, corporations and the government.

Driving the news: The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy launched a fact-finding mission yesterday that will ultimately result in a "'bill of rights' to guard against the powerful technologies we have created," OSTP director Eric Lander and his deputy Alondra Nelson wrote in an op-ed published by Wired yesterday.

What they're saying: "It’s important to start the conversations about what’s acceptable — and unacceptable — regarding AI and our personal data now, before it is too late," says Sanjay Gupta, global head of product and corporate development at Mitek Systems, a leader in digital identity verification.

  • "Companies will find agreeable ways to still innovate with and integrate these technologies," he said.

AI's biggest boosters can fall victim to a kind of techno-solutionism — expecting technology to efficiently solve structural, societal problems.

  • Yes, but: At the same time, though, focusing too narrowly on the applications of AI risks a reverse techno-solutionism — believing that the fastest way to fix social problems is by tweaking the technologies that affect them, rather than the often intractable issues that underlie them.

Reminder: The original Bill of Rights is nearly 230 years old, and we're still debating the meaning of nearly each of its 652 words.

  • If an AI Bill of Rights is our ultimate goal, we're still at the stage of haggling over the Articles of Confederation.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 17, 2021 - Technology

An insider's view of "algorithmic warfare"

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Artificial intelligence will "change the nature of war," according to Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense.

Why it matters: Success on the battlefield will increasingly come down to the ability to make algorithmically aided decisions faster, and while the U.S. has long maintained a decisive technological advantage in warfare, its lead in AI is much narrower.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 17, 2021 - Technology

Taming the wild west of AI-based hiring

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New laws and regulations are aiming to draw some boundaries for the fast-growing but often black-box approach of using AI to hire employees.

Why it matters: Companies large and small have embraced AI-based tools to screen, assess and select job candidates, but algorithmic approaches have been largely unregulated and risk perpetuating biases on race, gender, disability and more.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.