The Problem with the President's AI Executive Order
President Biden signed a sweeping executive order to “harness” and “keep” artificial intelligence, two words you never want to hear from the government. This new regulation will inhibit Americans’ flourishing because restricting free markets never works.
The EO is reported to ensure safety, equity, and responsible development. While these goals may appear laudable, delving deeper reveals that this motion will hinder economic progress and stifle the innovation it aims to promote. That’s why policies must always be judged by their results rather than their intentions.
Details of the order’s objectives include safety tests, industry standards, and government oversight to address potential risks associated with AI. Forcing AI companies to conduct safety tests before going public, known as “red teaming,” will significantly slow the development and deployment of AI technologies.
It’s well-established that innovation thrives in an environment of minimal regulatory interference called “permissionless innovation.” So introducing these bureaucratic hurdles will hinder fast-growing AI and all the industries that have begun to rely on it. Medicine and biotech, in particular, have realized remarkable potential with AI that has life-saving ramifications. But Biden’s overreaching EO wants to harness that.
As is the case with many regulations, the EO comes at not just a cost to the individuals it affects but to the government’s pocketbook as well.
As part of its endeavor to “preserve individuals’ privacy,” the administration will fund the Research Coordination Network. At a time when wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation and the average American family is losing real money due to a suffering economy, the government adding an expense like this is an insult to injury. Congress needs to reduce spending, and the Fed needs to slash its bloated balance sheet now more than ever.
One of the most troubling aspects of the EO is its emphasis on regulating AI in the workforce out of concern for the technology displacing workers. Although there has been some uproar out of concern over AI destroying jobs, research shows that only 34% of Americans fear job displacement due to AI.
And for good reason.
Not only now but historically, concerns about new technologies displacing workers have been overblown. A Harvard paper published in 2013 predicted that by 2023, almost half of all American jobs would be replaced by AI. Clearly, the calculation has not come to pass.
That’s because technology is a tool, not a threat. Frequently, implementing AI and technology like it allows humans to do more complex or human-facing jobs that AI can’t do or that people don’t want AI to do.
AI is a transformative technology that has the potential to revolutionize various industries, from healthcare to finance and beyond. In a free market, competition drives innovation and efficiency, benefiting consumers and businesses. Restricting AI through excessive regulations and government oversight threatens this dynamic.
While the intention behind Biden’s EO on AI may be to ensure responsible development and safe use, the economic consequences could be dire. To maintain America’s leadership in AI and foster economic growth, lawmakers and leaders must avoid overregulation and unnecessary restrictions on this transformative technology.
Instead, we should encourage innovation, protect intellectual property, and ensure that AI remains a powerful tool for driving economic prosperity and improving the lives of all Americans.
In the fast-paced world of technology, the last thing we need is government interference that hampers progress.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D., is president of Ginn Economic Consulting, host of the Let People Prosper Show podcast, chief economist or senior fellow at think tanks, and the former chief economist of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Follow him on X.com at @VanceGinn.