U.S. Is More Relaxed About AI Than Europe Is

The White House is advocating a lighter touch to regulation of artificial intelligence so as not to hamper innovation.


A White House memorandum published earlier this week makes it clear that the Trump administration plans to handle regulation of artificial intelligence much more loosely than Europe has said it would.

The memo, directed at the heads of federal agencies, is meant to set down broad regulatory principles to govern AI development in the private sector. The goals of the guidance are to "ensure public engagement, limit regulatory overreach, and promote trustworthy technology," according to the paper from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

"Guided by these principles, innovators and government officials will ensure that as the United States embraces AI we also address the challenging technical and ethical questions that AI can create," according to the OSTP.

But the White House guidance also directs federal agencies to avoid preemptive, burdensome, or duplicative rules that would hamper AI innovation and growth.

In contrast, the European Parliament guidance last September touched on "ethical rules" for designing and developing AI products and services in the European Union and presented "possible further EU action ranging from soft law guidance to standardization to legislation in the field of ethics and AI."

The European guidance also stressed that the EU would remain faithful to "its higher standard of protection against the social risks posed by AI — in particular those affecting privacy, data protection, and discrimination rules — unlike other more lax jurisdictions."

The White House couldn't resist commenting on Europe's approach: “Europe and our allies should avoid heavy-handed innovation-killing models, and instead consider a similar regulatory approach,” the OSTP said in a fact sheet.

The OSTP also criticized "governments elsewhere [that] are co-opting companies and deploying their AI technology in the service of the surveillance state, where they monitor and imprison dissidents, activists, and minorities, such as Beijing’s treatment of the Muslim Uyghurs."

The OSTP did state that among the more important steps as AI solutions develop would involve federal agencies examining "whether the outcomes and decisions of an AI application could result in unlawful discrimination, considering appropriate measures to disclose when AI is in use, and considering what controls are needed to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the information processed, stored, and transmitted in an AI system."

The White House also clearly wants any new regulations to be flexible.

"Given the pace at which AI will continue to evolve, agencies will need to establish flexible frameworks that allow for rapid change and updates across sectors, rather than one-size-fits-all regulations," wrote Michael Kratsios, chief technology officer of the United States, in a Bloomberg opinion piece on Monday. "Automated vehicles, drones, and AI-powered medical devices all call for vastly different regulatory considerations."

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