President Biden Delivers Remarks On Artificial Intelligence

In June, Republicans adopted a new platform, which included a provision aiming to overturn President Biden’s executive order on AI. This move has caused worry among AI experts. The platform states that they will “repeal Joe Biden’s dangerous Executive Order that hinders AI Innovation, and imposes Radical Leftwing ideas on the development of this technology.”

Biden’s order, signed last October, addressed the potential risks of AI to civil rights, privacy, and national security, while encouraging innovation and its application to public services. It mandates developers of powerful AI systems to share their safety test results with the government and calls for federal agencies to develop guidelines for responsible AI use in areas such as criminal justice and federal benefit programs.

Carl Szabo, vice president of industry group NetChoice, which includes Google, Meta, and Amazon among its members, supports the repeal, stating, “It would be good for Americans and innovators.”

“Rather than enforcing existing rules that can be applied to AI tech, Biden’s Executive Order merely forces bureaucrats to create new, complex burdens on small businesses and innovators trying to enter the marketplace. Over-regulating like this risks derailing AI’s incredible potential for progress and ceding America’s technological edge to competitors like China,” said Szabo in a statement.

However, a poll exclusively shared with TIME reveals that Americans across the political spectrum are skeptical of avoiding AI regulation to outpace China. According to the poll conducted in late June by the AI Policy Institute (AIPI), 75% of both Democrats and Republicans believe that “taking a careful controlled approach” to AI is preferable to “moving forward on AI as fast as possible to be the first country to get extremely powerful AI.”

Dan Hendrycks, director of the Center for Safe AI, emphasizes, “AI safety and risks to national security are bipartisan issues. Poll after poll shows Democrats and Republicans want AI safety legislation.”

The proposal to remove the safeguards implemented by Biden’s executive order contradicts public support for a measured approach to AI and has raised concerns among experts. Amba Kak, co-executive director of the AI Now Institute and former senior advisor on AI at the Federal Trade Commission, considers Biden’s order “one of the biggest achievements in the last decade in AI policy” and believes scrapping it would “feel like going back to ground zero.” Kak argues that Trump’s pledge to support AI development rooted in “human flourishing” is a subtle but harmful departure from established frameworks like human rights and civil liberties.

Ami Fields-Meyer, a former White House senior policy advisor on AI who worked on Biden’s executive order, states, “I think the Trump message on AI is, ‘You’re on your own,’” implying that repealing the executive order would eliminate provisions meant to protect people from bias or unfair decision-making by AI.

TechNet and several think tanks and tech lobbyists have spoken out against the executive order since its introduction, claiming it could hinder innovation. In December, venture capitalist and prominent AI investor Ben Horowitz criticized efforts to regulate “math, FLOPs and R&D,” referring to the compute thresholds set by Biden’s executive order. Horowitz stated his firm would “support like-minded candidates and oppose candidates who aim to kill America’s advanced technological future.”

While Trump has previously accused tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Twitter of working against him, in June, during an appearance on Logan Paul’s podcast, Trump claimed that California “tech guys” contributed $12 million to his campaign. “They gave me a lot of money. They’ve never been into doing that,” Trump said.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Even if Trump is re-elected and does repeal Biden’s executive order, some changes wouldn’t be immediately noticeable. Most leading AI companies pledged to voluntarily share safety testing information with governments at an international summit on AI in Seoul last May, suggesting that removing the requirements to share information under the executive order may not have an immediate impact on national security. However, Field-Meyer cautions, “If the Trump campaign believes that the rigorous national security safeguards proposed in the executive order are radical liberal ideas, that should be concerning to every American.”

Field-Meyer points out that the debate over the executive order underscores the need for federal AI legislation, which “would bring a lot more stability to AI policy.” There are currently over AI-related bills in Congress, but it seems unlikely that any will become law soon.

Sandra Wachter, a professor of technology regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, considers Biden’s executive order “a seminal step towards ensuring ethical AI and is very much on par with global developments in the UK, the EU, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and the rest of the world.” She worries that it will be repealed before it has had a chance to have a lasting impact. “It would be a very big loss and a big missed opportunity if the framework was to be scrapped and AI governance to be reduced to a partisan issue,” she says. “This is not a political problem, this is a human problem—and a global one at that.”