The organization welcomes this order, which readies the federal government to prevent and address bias and discrimination in new technologies; but more action is needed to fully address harmful AI uses by law enforcement.
Washington, DC–President Joseph R. Biden issued an executive order outlining standards for the responsible use of artificial intelligence on Monday, signaling the administration’s prioritization of the issue and operationalizing several key principles articulated in the administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, released last year. The executive order comes amid unprecedented challenges posed by artificial intelligence technology to democracy and civil rights. The Lawyers’ Committee has been a leading organization in advocating for civil rights protections in the digital realm, including calling for executive action to adopt and implement the principles outlined in the Blueprint.
Given the impact AI tools have already had on Black people and other communities of color, the Lawyers’ Committee welcomes the executive order as a meaningful step in addressing discrimination and ensuring AI tools are safe, effective, and responsible. The executive order creates safeguards on the use of generative AI and algorithmic decision-making tools and sets needed guardrails on the use of the rapidly emerging technology in housing, labor, healthcare, government benefits, and more. However, while the executive order directs agencies to assess how AI tools are used in the criminal justice system, it does not sufficiently address harmful uses of AI by law enforcement agencies, such as the discriminatory use of facial recognition technologies.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the following statement in response to President Biden’s executive order:
“We believe in the potential for AI to be a powerful tool to help advance our vision of opportunity and prosperity for Black and Brown people. But we cannot let the tools of the future reinforce the mistakes of the past. Guardrails must be implemented now to ensure that this emerging technology centers equity at every step of development and implementation,” said Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This executive order is a critical step to help guard against algorithmic bias and discrimination. It can be the beginning of a pathway to a future where AI empowers instead of oppresses.”
Hewitt continued, “To make that future a reality, civil rights-focused protections must apply to every aspect of our lives touched by AI technology, including the harmful use of AI by law enforcement. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration on how we can address the full scope of this challenge and fully leverage the opportunity before us.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.