Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the substack newsletter “Marcus on AI” and is published here with permission.
The White House has just released a lengthy fact sheet on a wide-ranging executive order on AI that’s expected later today. I haven’t seen the final version of the order. But first impressions:
Secondarily, a major UK journalist just asked me,“Wondered if you’d seen the executive order on AI? Do you think this takes the wind out the sails of the [upcoming UK AI] summit?”
Let’s put it this way. Biden’s executive order sets a high initial bar. The executive order is broad, focusing on both current and long-term risks, with some—though probably not enough—teeth. The UK Summit, later this week, seems to have greatly narrowed its own focus, primarily looking at long-term risk, with not enough focus on the here and now, and it’s just not clear how much with teeth will come out of it, or even what authority it really has. We don’t need another position paper; we need concrete implementation. The US executive order is an important first step in that direction; it will be interesting to see whether the UK Summit is able to carry the ball further down field.
Update, a few minutes later: Upon reading this essay, George Mason University expert Missy Cummings pointed out a loophole big enough to sail an aircraft carrier through. The order requires that companies developing “foundational models” are subject to the requirements of the executive order. Not all AI uses foundational models at all (e.g., until recently probably few driverless car systems relied in a significant way on foundational models, and some probably still don’t), and it’s easy to add some other gadgets in and say your model is not a foundational model. Framing things as only pertaining to foundational models is plainly too narrow.
I am thrilled to see at least a little of what I have been talking about set to practice. Let’s make sure we get all the way over the goal line.
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