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In a meeting on Tuesday with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, President Biden said that “AI can help deal with some very difficult challenges like disease and climate change, but we also have to address the potential risks to our society, to our economy, to our national security.”

According to a White House transcript, Biden began his afternoon remarks to the press with a joke. “You’re being so calm today,” he told the audience, who responded with laughter. “I think they think it’s all the artificial intelligence watching them.”

Biden’s comments came nearly a week after an open letter signed by Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and others that proposed a six-month “pause” on large-scale AI development.  The letter was put out by an organization focused on x-risk (a nickname for “existential risk”) called the Future of Life Institute.

Expanding on AI Bill of Rights

While Biden did not allude to the letter, he did mention the White House’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.

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“Last October, we proposed a bill of rights — a bill of rights to ensure the important protections are built into the AI systems from the start, not have to go back to do it,” he said. “And I look forward to today’s discussion about ensuring responsible innovation and appropriate guardrails to protect America’s rights and safety, and protecting their privacy, and to address the bias and disinformation that is possible as well.”

Tech companies, he added, “have a responsibility, in my view, to make sure their products are safe before making them public.”

He went on to reiterate comments he made in the State of the Union Address to Congress, in which he urged bipartisan privacy legislation. This should “one, impose strict limits on personal data that tech companies collect on all of us; two, ban … targeted advertising to children; and three, require companies to put health and safety first in the products that they build,” he said.

When asked by a reporter whether he thinks AI is dangerous, Biden replied “It remains to be seen. It could be.”

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