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The Trump administration announced a hands-off policy for regulating artificial intelligence.

What’s new: The White House unveiled an executive order instructing federal agencies to minimize rule-making related to AI businesses.

What it says: The order guides regulators to craft rules that protect civil liberties, consider scientific research, and encourage public input while avoiding rules that might hinder innovation or weigh on company finances.

  • The directive asks agencies to avoid making rules whenever possible, and instead establish voluntary standards or issue non-binding statements. When regs are unavoidable or already exist, agencies should shield innovators via pilot programs or waivers.
  • Federal agencies are encouraged to “use their authority to address inconsistent, burdensome, and duplicative state laws that prevent the emergence of a national market.” This could add fuel to legal battles over state laws like Illinois’ BIPA, which is at the center of a class-action lawsuit charging that Facebook’s face recognition models violate civil liberties.
  • The guidelines will take effect after a 60-day public comment period.

Behind the news: Six members of the G7 group of the world’s leading economies have been working to build consensus on a set of international AI guidelines since 2018. The U.S. is the only member to reject them. Before the executive order was issued, US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told Wired that the guidance was part of a broader effort to inject free market principles into international AI standards, as opposed to top-down direction.

Why it matters: Clear regulations allow companies to innovate without worrying that the government might suddenly change the rules. They also provide boundaries for generally accepted uses of new technology.

We’re thinking: We welcome government actions that help AI reach the market while protecting citizens. Further policies that would help the field grow include investing in education and welcoming the immigration of talented scientists and engineers.


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