On January 7, 2020, the White House issued a draft memorandum setting forth proposed principles for agencies to follow when regulating and taking non-regulatory actions affecting artificial intelligence (AI) in the private sector.1 The principles provide a road map for agencies to achieve objectives first described in the Trump administration’s Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence, signed on February 11, 2019.2 Important for companies, the memorandum includes a call for the private sector to provide comments.
In keeping with that executive order, the principles seek to ensure American AI preeminence by focusing on AI adoption, innovation and growth, while respecting American values such as IP protection, economic and national security, privacy and civil liberties. Chief Technology Officer of the United States Michael Kratsios stated that the proposed principles, which are designed to “[e]nsure public engagement, limit regulatory overreach and promote trustworthy technology,” will help to secure America’s status as a “global hub of AI innovation.”3 He contrasted the principles to “the rise of technology-enabled authoritarianism in China,” an “authoritarian government that ha[s] no qualms about supporting and enabling companies to deploy technology that undermines individual liberty and basic human rights . . . .”
The principles repeatedly emphasize that federal agencies must avoid regulatory and non-regulatory actions that needlessly hamper AI innovation and growth. As well, the principles appear to welcome federal preemption of inconsistent, duplicative or burdensome state laws that prevent the emergence of a national AI market.
The United States has yet to promulgate a broad regulatory scheme that governs the development and use of AI, nor have US agencies collaborated to ensure consistent regulation of AI. Rather than outline a specific regulatory scheme, the principles provide guidance to align future regulatory action with the Trump administration’s goals, encourage interagency cooperation and avoid over-regulation. To help ensure that these objectives are achieved, the principles explicitly require that, within 180 days of issuance of the memorandum, federal departments and agencies inform the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of how they plan to achieve consistency with the memorandum.
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