Saturday, December 2, 2023

Business leaders, policymakers wrestle with rapid rise of AI

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“To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risks, we need to govern this technology,” President Joe Biden said at a recent White House event where he signed an executive order to better secure and safeguard against the rapidly emerging AI technology. “There’s no other way around it, in my view.”

The action from the president marked the latest high-profile example of just how fast AI is working its way into our daily lives – as we all still learn in real time about its capabilities, promises, and potential pitfalls.

“Before generative AI captured global attention, President Biden and I convened leaders from across the country, from computer scientists to civil rights leaders to legal scholars and business leaders, all to help make sure the benefits of AI are shared equitably and to address predictable threats, such as algorithmic discrimination, data privacy violations, and deep fakes,” Vice President Kamala Harris said during that same event. “We named it the ‘Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.’ After which, President Biden and I had extensive engagement with the leading AI companies to help ensure the private sector commits to the principles in the blueprint and to establish a minimum baseline of responsible AI practices.”

Harris said the administration intends for the actions being taken domestically to serve as a model globally. “Understanding that AI developed in one nation can impact the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world,” Harris said. “Fundamentally, it is our belief that technology with global impact requires global action.”

The White House said the executive order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, protects consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more.

Some toplines of the order include:

  • A requirement that developers of the most powerful AI systems share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government – in accordance with the Defense Production Act.
  • Standards, tools, and tests to help ensure that AI systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy – with the National Institute of Standards and Technology setting rigorous standards for extensive red-team testing to ensure safety before public release.
  • Protection against the risks of using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials by developing strong new standards for biological synthesis screening.
  • Protection against AI-enabled fraud and deception by establishing standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content by having the Department of Commerce develop guidance and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content.
  • Catalyzing AI research across the country through a pilot of the National AI Research Resource – a tool that will provide AI researchers and students access to key AI resources and data.
  • Promoting a fair, open, and competitive AI ecosystem by providing small developers and entrepreneurs access to technical assistance and resources – to help small businesses commercialize AI breakthroughs.


“With today’s executive order, I am determined to do everything in my power to promote and demand responsible innovation,” Biden said.

President Joe Biden hosts a meeting on Artificial Intelligence, Tuesday, June 20, 2023, at The Fairmont hotel in San Francisco.
President Joe Biden hosted a meeting on artificial intelligence in June. From left: Khan Academy founder and CEO Sal Khan, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Arati Prabhakar, Biden, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Algorithmic Justice League founder Joy Buolamwini. – OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO/ADAM SCHULTZ

Biden added that we face a genuine inflection point in history. “One of those moments where the decisions we make in the very near term are going to set the course for the next decades. And with the position we lead the world, the toughest challenges are the greatest opportunities,” said Biden. “There’s no greater change that I can think of in my life than AI presents as a potential: exploring the universe, fighting climate change, ending cancer as we know it, and so much more. As artificial intelligence expands the boundary of human possibility and tests the bounds of human understanding, this landmark Executive Order is a testament to what we stand for: safety, security, trust, openness, American leadership, and the undeniable rights endowed by our creator that no creator – no creation can take away.”

Here in the Garden State, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order of his own last month that established an Artificial Intelligence Task Force charged with studying emerging AI technologies.

According to the Governor’s Office, the Task Force will be responsible for analyzing the potential effects of AI on society as well as preparing recommendations to identify government actions encouraging the ethical use of AI technologies.

The Task Force will be headed by three co-chairs – Office of Information Technology Chief Technology Officer Chris Rein, Office of Innovation Chief Innovation Officer Beth Simone Noveck, and New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan. The panel will also include as members the director of the office of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, commissioner of the Department of Education, secretary of higher education, commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the attorney general, or their designees.

Murphy said the Task Force will consult with industry leaders, academic experts, consumer advocates, and government innovators to build out recommendations – issuing a report of its findings and recommendations within a year to the governor, which will be made available to the Legislature and the public.

“With the rapid development of AI, New Jersey aspires to harness these new technologies and realize their benefits to better serve our state, encourage innovation, and economic equity,” Murphy said. “I am proud to establish a Task Force that will not only work to understand the benefits of AI but also analyze its growth and potential risks. It is critical that New Jersey continue to foster an environment for innovation while protecting individual and civil rights, and I am confident that the AI Task Force will further this important mission.”

The governor also announced a new initiative, in collaboration with InnovateUS, to educate the state’s workforce about the development, use and risks of AI – launching a free AI training targeted to state workers in the coming months. In addition to the Task Force, his administration has also tasked various agencies and departments with AI-related initiatives and responsibilities.

“New Jersey is leading the way by preparing our government’s professionals to enhance the equitable delivery of government services to New Jersey’s residents, businesses, and institutions,” said Simone Noveck. “As co-chair of the state’s AI Task Force, I’m pleased to partner with my colleagues from across the administration by investing in the state’s public workforce and making it possible for New Jersey’s public professionals to learn how to use AI for public benefit.”

“New Jersey, with its highly educated technology talent pool and legacy in innovation, is well-positioned for national leadership in AI,” said Sullivan. “I applaud Gov. Murphy’s proactive approach to ensure the risks and benefits of AI are appropriately understood, while also working to ensure our businesses and innovation leaders are at the forefront of the emerging field. I look forward to working with the Task Force to help secure New Jersey’s role as a leader in AI and help grow and diversify our economy.”

2023 Propelify Innovation Festival took place Oct. 5 at Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken.
TechUnited CEO and Propelify Innovation Festival organizer Aaron Price welcomes attendees to the 2023 event in Hoboken on Oct. 5. – MATTHEW FAZELPOOR

And there was perhaps no greater example of the rapid rise of AI than during last month’s annual Propelify Innovation Festival, which had an AI theme.

“This event this year is all about AI,” said TechUnited CEO and Propelify organizer Aaron Price, as he kicked off the 2023 iteration of the annual event at Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken. “Because obviously this has dramatically changed society.”

Propelify brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, founders, C-suite leaders, industry experts, political leaders, stakeholders and business leaders for a day of speakers, panels, exhibits and more.

Price noted that companies of all sizes were at the festival — and were using AI in different ways to improve their operations and make their businesses more efficient.

“Please make sure you spend time with these exhibitors and get to understand how they’re leveraging technology, specifically AI, to build this better future,” said Price.

Some panel topics included: how AI-driven products can create a cleaner and cooler future; building communities of AI experts; the impact of AI on creator economy; combatting financial fraud with AI; and much more.

In recorded comments to the festival, Murphy thanked organizers for focusing on this theme for this year’s version of the event.

“As entrepreneurs and innovators, all of you here are pioneers of new industries that will fuel our economy for generations to come,” the governor said. “Artificial intelligence presents us with a new frontier, and it is poised to dramatically transform our lives. So, I’m glad you have chosen to focus on it at this year’s festival.”

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