Former President Barack Obama advised the Biden administration regarding its strategy to tackle the issue of artificial intelligence, engaging with businesses and doing Zoom meetings with West Wing aides at the request of the current president, NBC News reported, citing Obama and Biden aides.
Biden, who served as vice president throughout Obama’s eight-year White House tenure, recently issued an executive order on AI.
“The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more,” the White House stated.
NBC News reported that White House chief of staff Jeff Zients said Biden, like Obama, has considered AI a technology that requires urgent attention because it involves significant promise and possibly severe consequences, depending on how it is utilized.
Biden and Obama spoke about the topic via phone in June, Biden and Obama aides noted, according to the outlet. They concurred on the objective of maximizing the technology but limiting risk, aides reportedly noted.
After that, Biden requested that Obama consult with his team to craft a policy that promotes innovation and tackles the dangers of AI, aides said, according to NBC News. Biden and Obama reportedly continued talking at a White House lunch.
Obama maintained contact with White House chief of staff Jeff Zients, deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, to provide input regarding the executive order, Biden and Obama aides noted, according to the outlet.
The former president helped lay groundwork for companies to willingly sign on to have their AI models pressure-tested prior to being made available to the public, Biden and Obama aides noted, according to NBC News.
“He helped really set the frame of mind that companies can innovate while also being responsible and that companies need to be accountable,” Zients said, according to the outlet.
“I’m glad to see the Biden administration acting with a sense of urgency — securing voluntary commitments from leading companies, and now signing an executive order designed to encourage innovation while avoiding some of the biggest risks. Congress should follow President Biden’s lead and look to his executive order for opportunities to fund this work,” Obama said in a statement.
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