The Office of the President of the United States issues a blueprint for an Artificial Intelligence Bill of Rights

October 5, 2022 |

Artificial intelligence is as much a technological phenomenon as a public policy challenge.  It impacts on the law in a significant way. 

On 4 October 2022 the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued  a Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. It has five principles to guide the design, use, and deployment of automated systems  each accompanied by a handbook detailing how to incorporate such principles.

The five principles are :

  • Safe and effective systems: automated systems should be developed with consultation from diverse communities, stakeholders, and domain experts and should undergo pre-deployment testing, risk identification, and mitigation.
  • Algorithmic discrimination protections: designers, developers, and deployers of automated systems should take proactive and continuous measures to protect individuals and communities from algorithmic discrimination and use and design systems in an equitable way.
  • Data privacy: privacy should be provided through design choices that ensure protections are included by default, making sure that data collection conforms to reasonable expectations and is only what is strictly necessary for the specific context. Consent should only be used as a legal basis when it can be appropriately and meaningfully given, and requests for consent should be brief and understandable. Sensitive data should enjoy special protections, and unchecked surveillance should be avoided.
  • Notice and explanation: designers, developers, and deployers of automated systems should provide documentation clearly describing the role of automation in the overall system, as well as notice that the systems are in the use and an explanation of outcomes, among other things.
  • Human alternatives, consideration, and fallback: individuals should be able to opt out from automated systems in favour of a human alternative, where appropriate.

The Blueprint sets out  a two part-test to determine what systems should be within its scope, namely that it should apply to:

  1. automated systems that
  2. have the potential to meaningfully impact  rights, opportunities, or access to critical resources or services.

The statement from the White House provides:

Among the great challenges posed to democracy today is the use of technology, data, and automated systems in ways that threaten the rights of the American public. Too often, these tools are used to limit our opportunities and prevent our access to critical resources or services. These problems are well documented. In America and around the world, systems supposed to help with patient care have proven unsafe, ineffective, or biased. Algorithms used in hiring and credit decisions have been found to reflect and reproduce existing unwanted inequities or embed new harmful bias and discrimination. Unchecked social media data collection has been used to threaten people’s opportunities, undermine their privacy, or pervasively track their activity—often without their knowledge or consent.

These outcomes are deeply harmful—but they are not inevitable. Automated systems have brought about extraordinary benefits, from technology that helps farmers grow food more efficiently and computers that predict storm paths, to algorithms that can identify diseases in patients. These tools now drive important decisions across sectors, while data is helping to revolutionize global industries. Fueled by the power of American innovation, these tools hold the potential to redefine every part of our society and make life better for everyone.

This important progress must not come at the price of civil rights or democratic values, foundational American principles that President Biden has affirmed as a cornerstone of his Administration. On his first day in office, the President ordered the full Federal government to work to root out inequity, embed fairness in decision-making processes, and affirmatively advance civil rights, equal opportunity, and racial justice in America.[i] The President has spoken forcefully about the urgent challenges posed to democracy today and has regularly called on people of conscience to act to preserve civil rights—including the right to privacy, which he has called “the basis for so many more rights that we have come to take for granted that are ingrained in the fabric of this country.”[ii]

To advance President Biden’s vision, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has identified five principles that should guide the design, use, and deployment of automated systems to protect the American public in the age of artificial intelligence. The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights is a guide for a society that protects all people from these threats—and uses technologies in ways that reinforce our highest values. Responding to the experiences of the American public, and informed by insights from researchers, technologists, advocates, journalists, and policymakers, this framework is accompanied by From Principles to Practice—a handbook for anyone seeking to incorporate these protections into policy and practice, including detailed steps toward actualizing these principles in the technological design process. These principles help provide guidance whenever automated systems can meaningfully impact the public’s rights, opportunities, or access to critical needs.

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