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In the midst of congressional debates on regulating artificial intelligence (AI), the announcement came that Congress is unlikely to pass any legislation on AI this year. The focus recently shifted to the executive order issued by Joe Biden in October 2023 and the subsequent guidelines from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued on March 28, 2024, titled “Advancing Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management for Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence.”

Congress has been discussing AI regulations for some time, with directives from past administrations like Donald Trump and Barack Obama on AI. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in December 2023, revealing that federal agencies have reported over 1,200 AI use cases but are still in the planning phase. Concerns have been raised regarding potential AI abuses such as voice cloning and deep fakes impersonating real people.

While the private sector is often scrutinized for AI risks, there are fears of government abuse and unchecked power in AI governance. The emphasis has been on the need for competitive market processes to address these issues rather than government intervention. The debate on AI legislation should focus more on government-generated harm rather than private sector regulations. The federal government’s expanding use of AI raises concerns about overreach and mission boundaries.

In light of these concerns, the recent OMB guidance on halting inappropriate AI use by federal agencies may provide a temporary safeguard against excessive deployment. The focus should be on writing legislation that limits the government’s use of AI, rather than targeting the private sector for regulation. Legislation should aim to restrict federal investment and deployment of AI, preventing government manipulation and overreach in AI technologies.

Steps are being taken to ensure AI trustworthiness and safeguard civil liberties, especially in areas where government surveillance and potential violations of privacy rights arise. A proposed model legislation outlines measures to restrict government funding, research, and development in AI, emphasizing the protection of citizens’ constitutional liberties and privacy. The government’s role in AI governance should be limited to essential national security and public safety projects, with safeguards against misuse and abuse of AI technologies.

Efforts to regulate AI in government operations and limit potential risks are necessary in the face of rapid technological advancements. Legislation is needed to address the unique challenges posed by AI and ensure that government agencies are held accountable for their use of AI technologies. By focusing on regulating government use of AI, policymakers can mitigate risks and safeguard citizens’ rights in an increasingly AI-driven world.

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