Remarks by Vice President Harris on the Future of Artificial Intelligence | London, United Kingdom

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everyone.  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon, everyone.  (Applause.)  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon.  It’s good to see everyone.

Ambassador Hartley, thank you for the warm welcome that you gave us last night and today, and for inviting us to be here with you.  And thank you for your extraordinary leadership, on behalf of the President and me and our country.

And it is, of course, my honor to be with everyone here at the United States Embassy in London, as well as to be with former Prime Minister Theresa May and all of the leaders from the private sector, civil society, academia, and our many international partners. 

So, tomorrow, I will participate in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Global Summit on AI Safety to continue to advance global collaboration on the safe and responsible use of AI.

Today, I will speak more broadly about the vision and the principles that guide America’s work on AI.

President Biden and I believe that all leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector have a moral, ethical, and societal duty to make sure that AI is adopted and advanced in a way that protects the public from potential harm and that ensures that everyone is able to enjoy its benefits.

AI has the potential to do profound good to develop powerful new medicines to treat and even cure the diseases that have for generations plagued humanity, to dramatically improve agricultural production to help address global food insecurity, and to save countless lives in the fight against the climate crisis.

But just as AI has the potential to do profound good, it also has the potential to cause profound harm.  From AI-enabled cyberattacks at a scale beyond anything we have seen before to AI-formulated bio-weapons that could endanger the lives of millions, these threats are often referred to as the “existential threats of AI” because, of course, they could endanger the very existence of humanity. (Pause)

These threats, without question, are profound, and they demand global action.

But let us be clear.  There are additional threats that also demand our action — threats that are currently causing harm and which, to many people, also feel existential.

Consider, for example: When a senior is kicked off his healthcare plan because of a faulty AI algorithm, is that not existential for him?

Accordingly, to define AI safety, I offer that we must consider and address the full spectrum of AI risk — threats to humanity as a whole, as well as threats to individuals, communities, to our institutions, and to our most vulnerable populations.

We must manage all these dangers to make sure that AI is truly safe.

I believe history will show that this was the moment when we had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the future of AI.  And the urgency of this moment must then compel us to create a collective vision of what this future must be.

A future where AI is used to advance human rights and human dignity, where privacy is protected and people have equal access to opportunity, where we make our democracies stronger and our world safer.  A future where AI is used to advance the public interest.
And that is the future President Joe Biden, and I are building.
Before generative AI captured global attention, President Biden and I convened leaders from across our country — from computer scientists, to civil rights activists, to business leaders, and legal scholars — all to help make sure that the benefits of AI are shared equitably and to address predictable threats, including deep fakes, data privacy violations, and algorithmic discrimination. 
And then, we created the AI Bill of Rights.  Building on that earlier this week, President Biden directed the United States government to promote safe, secure, and trustworthy AI — a directive that will have wide-ranging impact. 
For example, our administration will establish a national safety reporting program on the unsafe use of AI in hospitals and medical facilities.  Tech companies will create new tools to help consumers discern if audio and visual content is AI-generated.  And AI developers will be required to submit the results of AI safety testing to the United States government for review.  

Today, we are also taking steps to establish requirements that when the United States government uses AI, it advances the public interest.  And we intend that these domestic AI policies will serve as a model for global policy, understanding that AI developed in one nation can impact the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world. 
Fundamentally, it is our belief that technology with global impact deserves global action. 

And so, to provide order and stability in the midst of global technological change, I firmly believe that we must be guided by a common set of understandings among nations.  And that is why the United States will continue to work with our allies and partners to apply existing international rules and norms to AI and work to create new rules and norms. 
To that end, earlier this year, the United States announced a set of principles for responsible development, deployment, and use of military AI and autonomous capabilities.  It includes a rigorous legal review process for AI decision-making and a commitment that AI systems always operate with international — and within international humanitarian law. 
Today, I am also announcing that 30 countries have joined our commitment to the responsible use of military AI.  And I call on more nations to join. 

In addition to all of this, the United States will continue to work with the G7; the United Nations; and a diverse range of governments, from the Global North to the Global South, to promote AI safety and equity around the world. 

Civil society groups advocate for the public interest.  They hold the public and private sectors to account and are essential to the health and stability of our democracies. 

As with many other important issues, AI policy requires the leadership and partnership of civil society.  And today, in response to my call, I am proud to announce that 10 top philanthropies have committed to join us to protect workers’ rights, advanced transparency, prevent discrimination, drive innovation in the public interest, and help build international rules and norms for the responsible use of AI. 

These organizations have already made an initial commitment of $200 million in furtherance of these principles. 

And so, today, I call on more civil society organizations to join us in this effort. 

In addition to our work with civil society, President Biden and I will continue to engage with the private companies who are building this technology.

Today, commercial interests are leading the way in the development and application of large language models and making decisions about how these models are built, trained, tested, and secured. 

These decisions have the potential to impact all of society. 

As such, President Biden and I have had extensive engagement with the leading AI companies to establish a minimum — minimum — baseline of responsible AI practices. 

The result is a set of voluntary company commitments, which range from commitments to report vulnerabilities discovered in AI models to keeping those models secure from bad actors. 

Let me be clear, these voluntary commitments are an initial step toward a safer AI future with more to come, because, as history has shown, in the absence of regulation and strong government oversight, some technology companies choose to prioritize profit over the wellbeing of their customers, the safety of our communities, and the stability of our democracies. 

An important way to address these challenges, in addition to the work we have already done, is through legislation — legislation that strengthens AI safety without stifling innovation. 

In a constitutional government like the United States, the executive branch and the legislative branch should work together to pass laws that advance the public interest.  And we must do so swiftly, as this technology rapidly advances. 

These laws and regulations are enforceable and currently apply to AI companies.

President Biden and I reject the false choice that suggests we can either protect the public or advance innovation.  We can and we must do both. 

The actions we take today will lay the groundwork for how AI will be used in the years to come.

So, I will end with this: This is a moment of profound opportunity.  The benefits of AI are immense.  It could give us the power to fight the climate crisis, make medical and scientific breakthroughs, explore our universe, and improve everyday life for people around the world. 

So, let us seize this moment.  Let us recognize this moment we are in.

As leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector, let us work together to build a future where AI creates opportunity, advances equity, fundamental freedoms and rights being protected.

Let us work together to fulfill our duty to make sure artificial intelligence is in the service of the public interest.

I thank you all.  (Applause.)