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Department of Commerce to Undertake Key Responsibilities in Historic Artificial Intelligence Executive Order

Oct 30, 2023

Department of Commerce to Undertake Key Responsibilities in Historic Artificial Intelligence Executive Order
Mon, 10/30/2023 – 15:24

Intellectual property


Monday, October 30, 2023

Office of Public Affairs

Today, President Joseph R. Biden signed an executive order (EO) to build U.S. capacity to evaluate and mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence (AI) systems to ensure safety, security, and trust, while promoting an innovative, competitive AI ecosystem that supports workers and protects consumers. The U.S. Department of Commerce will play a key role in implementing the EO, combining sophisticated standards and evaluation capabilities with a robust combination of reporting requirements and voluntary measures. Specifically, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be responsible for carrying out a significant portion of the EO’s objectives.

“The Commerce Department plays a pivotal role in the U.S. government’s approach of seizing the potential that comes with the development of advanced AI, while mitigating dangerous capabilities or risks to safety. Today’s executive order reaffirms that leadership as our Department prepares to undertake significant responsibilities to carry out the President’s vision to build a safer, more secure world,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Building on the voluntary commitments secured from leading American companies earlier this year, the President is taking a critical step forward to facilitate and incentivize safe and responsible innovation in AI.”

Experts at NIST will lead technical work on AI safety for the U.S. government. Building on existing work, they will develop industry standards for the safe and responsible development of frontier AI models, create test environments to evaluate these systems, and develop standards on privacy and on authenticating when content is AI-generated.

“Expanding on our wide-ranging efforts in AI, NIST will work with private and public stakeholders to carry out its responsibilities under the executive order,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie Locascio said. “We are committed to developing meaningful evaluation guidelines, testing environments, and information resources to help organizations develop, deploy, and use AI technologies that are safe and secure, and that enhance AI trustworthiness.”

BIS will invoke the Defense Production Act to institute measures to enhance safety as next-generation frontier AI models are developed, including measures requiring developers to report the steps they are taking to test their models and protect them from theft. These measures build on the White House voluntary commitments on safety, security, and trust – and will promote the safe development and use of AI.

“AI technology is a powerful tool that can be both a force for good and potentially dangerous if developed and used unsafely or in the hands of malign actors,” said Under Secretary for Industry and Security Alan Estevez. “The Bureau of Industry and Security stands ready to develop the regulations and procedures mandated by today’s executive order that will enhance safety and protect our national security and foreign policy interests without hindering the ability for technological developments and trade to flourish.”

Among other assignments, NTIA will prepare a report to assess the risks and benefits when model weights – the arrays of numbers that form the linchpin of AI models – are published online or “open sourced.” Open-source materials, and the communities that create them, can drive innovation. But these model weights may also pose risks if they fall into the wrong hands. 

“At NTIA, we are keenly interested in the power and promise of open source AI systems,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “These systems have the potential to unleash innovation across the country, placing accessible AI tools in the hands of startups, researchers, and individuals. But they also pose unique risks in terms of potential misuse and harm. As part of our work in the executive order, we will assess how to move forward with open source AI systems in a way that is accountable and responsible.”

USPTO will clarify key issues at the intersection of intellectual property and artificial intelligence. 

“When it comes to artificial intelligence, there is enormous potential for our country, for supporting inclusive and equitable innovation and entrepreneurship, and for solving world problems at speed and scale. But we must move thoughtfully and carefully to mitigate risk and to ensure AI adoption is responsible. The President’s executive order strikes that balance, ensuring we incentivize innovation in critical and emerging technologies, including through appropriate intellectual property protections for inventors and creators, while also advancing national security and AI safety,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Kathi Vidal.

The Department will also play a critical role in international venues to ensure safe, secure, and trustworthy AI development and use globally. Later this week, Secretary Raimondo will travel to the United Kingdom to participate in the AI Safety Summit 2023. Earlier this year, Secretary Raimondo joined President Biden at the White House to announce the voluntary commitments on AI from leading American companies, which she helped to secure. She has been a leader in securing the G-7 Principles and Code of Conduct also announced today and authored an op-ed in July on AI with Secretary Blinken for the Financial Times.

Bureaus and Offices

Bureau of Industry and Security
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


Gina M. Raimondo


Artificial Intelligence
National Security

Read the full report from the U.S. Department of Commerce: Read More