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When There’s AI Will

When There’s AI Will

The Biden Administration issued an executive order yesterday encompassing its most comprehensive federal guidelines around AI to date. 

The actions laid out in the EO are important steps in the U.S.’ development and use of AI – and the most notable to date by the Biden administration. But much of the impact will ultimately depend upon how agencies implement the directives and how and whether Congress chooses to authorize and fund them. 

For example, the EO calls on the FTC to step up its role as the watchdog on consumer protection and antitrust violations. But the White House does not have authority to direct the FTC, an independent agency, to create regulations. 

The order also includes directives to stand up task forces to tackle certain issues like boosting the federal AI workforce and planning for responsible AI deployment in healthcare, which will require funding from Congress. In many cases, stronger enforcement action is also not possible without new authority from Congress. 

The EO calls on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation. But some conservative lawmakers have also already raised concerns the EO will create undo regulatory burdens on companies and hurt innovation and American leadership in AI innovation. 

Next up is the UK’s global AI Safety Summit, which will host world leaders including Vice President Kamala Harris, experts and leading technology companies. The UK government has said the aim for the event is to facilitate a global conversation on AI and encourage a global coordinated approach to AI safety.

By the Numbers

School’s Out Forever

Academia-related union activity is more under-the-radar than broader labor union activity, but engaged voters are likely to be sympathetic when conflict arises.

In September, our Insights team asked our community of engaged voters, TrendSpotters, about recent labor union activity and strikes. This audience included additional engaged Gen Zers to understand younger Americans’ perspectives.

They found union activity related to academia gets less attention than overall union activity, but efforts can easily gain traction if any conflicts break through. These disputes are much more likely to be on Gen Z’s radar, but both groups are sympathetic, with 40% of insights community members and two-thirds of Gen Zers (66%) agreeing graduate students provide labor to their universities and deserve the same compensation and rights as other employees. 

Many voice concerns graduate students are being taken advantage of by universities with large endowments, and Gen Z worries that unpaid labor of students at universities contributes to further inequities. 

  • “Labor should not be considered part of their scholarship. It is taking advantage of them if they are performing duties that are normally performed by paid employees and they’re expected to perform them unpaid.” – Democratic Insights Community Member

  • “I went to college and grad students contributed a lot of their time working for their departments. They deserve pay. Unpaid internships are a luxury of the rich, and this system maintains the status quo of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.” – Gen Z Participant

Read At Your Own Risk

​The recent Voice referendum in Australia has lessons for the U.S. as we approach a contentious election year. 

The referendum, which aimed to give First Nations people a voice in Parliament, was significantly impacted by disinformation and conspiracy theories. These included claims that mail-in votes were a way to "rig the referendum" and that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) was manipulating the voting process.

The AEC has been actively responding to these conspiracy theories, a new approach for the statutory body. However, it can only address questions of electoral integrity and not the content of campaign materials.

Despite its efforts, the AEC is struggling to counter the volume of disinformation, being tagged in over 100,000 social media posts a week in the lead-up to the referendum.

We see some parallels to the Brexit referendum in the UK, which was also plagued by disinformation, affecting the outcome and causing long-term economic and societal impact.

The issue of disinformation and fake news must not be ignored, as it becomes more difficult to distinguish between reliable and fake news. With the rise of AI and the danger of deep fakes, fake news will only become harder to spot.

October 31, 2023
By Nedra Pickler and Irene Moskowitz
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