Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, David.

Last year my predecessor, Alexander MacGillivray—who many of you likely know as Amac—kicked off his speech reflecting on how nice it was to be with this assembly of “techie-policy-legal folks” (his words) and noted the limited number of geeks like us.

Like Amac, I too feel at home here. While I’m a lawyer by training, throughout my career in civil society, academia, and now in the federal government, I’ve collaborated with technologists, computer and data scientists, and social scientists who consider both the design and regulation of technical systems as essential to protecting democratic values and human rights, as well as our safety and security. I was an early member of what has more recently become known as the public interest technology field.

We are at a pivotal moment, where everyone around the globe recognizes the importance of not only regulating but of also proactively shaping, building, and using technology to support our values. There simply could not be a better time to be a member of this geeky community.

This event feels like home for another reason: almost 30 years ago, I helped start the Center for Democracy and Technology, a few years later CDT helped jumpstart the Internet Education Foundation, and a bit after that—as he tells it—I convinced Tim Lordan that he should come lead it.

For all these reasons, I’m grateful to the State of the Net for having me here today.

As David said, I’m in a new role. After 23 years as a Professor at UC Berkeley, I now have the privilege of serving as Principal Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP. OSTP works to maximize the benefits of science and technology to advance health, prosperity, security, environmental quality, and justice for all Americans. We advise the President and White House senior staff on key issues related to science and technology, and coordinate federal government technology policy and priorities.

President Biden and all of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to using tech and data to support the public interest: ensuring technology works for every member of the public, protects our safety and security, and reflects and protects democratic values and human rights.

In the time I have with you this morning I’d like to highlight three areas where the Administration is hard at work putting these commitments into action.

First: the Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence and OMB’s guidance on federal government use of AI

Last October, President Biden signed the landmark Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. The Executive Order lays out an ambitious agenda for the United States—it directs federal agencies to establish new standards for AI safety and security, protect Americans’ privacy, and advance equity and civil rights—it stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more.

My guess is the Executive Order has touched the work of every person in this room, because it was designed to improve the lives of every American.

President Biden directed the team to “pull every lever” to manage AI’s risks and harness its benefits.

I was looking back at the remarks that Amac gave at the State of the Net last year. He called out uses of AI that were undermining the public’s rights and opportunities, including:

• Black Americans who were being denied lifesaving healthcare by algorithms.
• Women whose job applications were being unjustly rejected by AI.

In this past year, we’ve taken meaningful steps to address these issues.

The AI Executive Order tasks the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a strategic plan that includes policies and frameworks on responsible deployment and use of AI and AI-enabled technologies in the health and human services sector. This includes a specific focus on identifying and mitigating discrimination and bias in the health care system.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released technical assistance for employers on the use of software, algorithms, and AI in decisions related to recruitment, hiring, promotion, and dismissal. In its most recent strategic enforcement plan, the EEOC highlighted employers’ increasing use of technology, including AI, to target job advertisements, recruit applicants, and make or assist in hiring and other employment decisions. In order to combat employment discrimination, EEOC will be focused on this as a key enforcement priority.

The Biden Harris Administration is also leading by example—establishing policies and practices to guide the responsible development and cultivate the best use of AI across the federal government, and investing in the research, infrastructure, and talent necessary to do this work.

In November, the Office of Management and Budget released a new draft policy on federal government use of AI. This guidance would establish AI governance structures in federal agencies, advance responsible AI innovation, increase transparency, protect federal workers, and manage risks from government uses of AI.

The draft policy emphasizes the importance of ensuring strong AI leadership at agencies, and furthering public reporting and transparency mechanisms through the AI use case inventories. It would place additional requirements—including impact assessments, stakeholder feedback, real-world performance testing, independent evaluation, and ongoing monitoring—for AI that impacts the public’s rights and safety. This is groundbreaking policy that would assure that government use of AI—from uses like facial recognition technology to decisions about benefits or services—is designed to protect the public’s rights and advance equity, dignity, and fairness.

This guidance and the Executive Order further the principles set forth in the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. When technology is changing at an extreme pace, it is important that we are clear about our values and that we translate them swiftly into practice. Together, these will serve as guiding lights as the Administration continues taking action to use AI responsibly for the benefit of the public.

None of this work would be possible without a robust AI workforce in the federal government. That’s why we launched the AI Talent Surge.

We are bringing in talent that can responsibly leverage AI to improve government services and programs; build AI regulatory capacity to ensure government develops and enforces policies around AI to protect rights, safety, and privacy; and strengthen the AI research and development ecosystem. If you are looking to tackle society’s grand challenges in a mission driven and collegial environment, we have a place for you. More information about open opportunities is available on

To bring in talent, the Office of Personnel Management is making it easier for agencies to quickly hire technical talent, such as data scientists. Programs stood up in the Obama-Biden Administration like the Presidential Innovation Fellowship and the U.S. Digital Service continue to bring technical talent into the federal government. And programs launched by the Biden-Harris Administration, such as the U.S. Digital Corps, to bring in early-career technologists. Importantly, federal agencies will also expand or provide AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields.

Many federal agencies have already designated a Chief AI Officer to advise agency leadership on AI, coordinate and track the agency’s AI activities, advance the use of AI in the agency’s mission, and oversee the management of AI risks. Technical experts are essential participants in both establishing and implementing tech policy. Bringing additional AI-enabling expertise into federal service at this moment is key to getting AI right.

Second, I want to talk about use of Facial Recognition Technology

The OMB guidance I just mentioned will be particularly important when it comes to rights-impacting AI systems like facial recognition technology used by the U.S. government. We’ve heard from a wide range of stakeholders who have expressed concerns with government and private sector use of facial recognition technology. And we’ve seen these concerns prompt action from the Federal Trade Commission with its recent allegations against private sector use of facial recognition technology without appropriate safeguards.

In May 2022, the President signed an Executive Order directing the federal government to assess how data can inform equitable and effective policing, as well as identify privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties concerns and recommend best practices related to the use of technology including facial recognition and predictive algorithms. My team and I are working with colleagues at the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice on this important work.

To support this work, the National Academy of Sciences conducted a study of facial recognition technology, with a particular focus on the use of such technologies by law enforcement. The recently issued report highlights the significant equity, privacy, and civil liberties concerns that merit attention by organizations that develop, deploy, and evaluate facial recognition technology. To address these concerns, the report lays out a number of recommendations for the federal government. As the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights highlights, designers, developers, and deployers of automated systems should take proactive and continuous measures to protect individuals and communities from algorithmic discrimination and to use and design systems in an equitable way.

We continue to work with our colleagues at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to identify best practices and recommended guidelines for federal, state, Tribal, local, and territorial law enforcement agencies, as well as technology vendors. And, we will continue to work together on the tasking from the Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence which directs the Department of Justice to develop policies and practices to promote the equitable treatment of individuals and adhere to the federal government’s fundamental obligation to ensure fair and impartial justice for all, with respect to the use of AI in the criminal justice system.

Finally, I want to highlight the importance of Privacy Impact Assessments

The community assembled here today knows the importance of protecting privacy. You also understand the vast implications of the growing troves of personal data and increase in technologies that automate surveillance and decision making for human rights and democratic values.

Some of you are the vanguard professionals—privacy professionals—in what is now a growing interdisciplinary field that understands the importance of shaping the design and use of technology and collection and use of personal data to support our rights and values. The work of the privacy community has never been more vital to our future. Equally important are the tools this community uses—key among them Privacy Impact Assessments. Federal agencies use these assessments to ensure compliance with applicable privacy requirements and manage privacy risks.

The Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence recognizes that strengthening federal protections for Americans’ privacy is a top priority, and directs federal agencies to take meaningful action. As part of the Executive Order on AI, OMB is soliciting public input on how Privacy Impact Assessments may be more effective at mitigating privacy harms, including those that are further exacerbated by AI. Those public comments are due by April 1.

This public input will inform OMB as it considers what potential revisions to guidance may be necessary to ensure that Privacy Impact Assessments continue to facilitate robust analysis and transparency about how agencies address these evolving privacy risks.


Our nation has immense aspirations: to achieve robust health and ample opportunity for each person in every community; to overcome the climate crisis by reimagining our infrastructure, restoring our relationship with nature, and securing environmental justice; to sustain global security and stability; to build a competitive economy that creates good-paying jobs; and to foster a strong, resilient, and thriving democracy.

Technology plays a vital role in achieving each of these goals.

When designed, developed, and used responsibility, technology and data can help us achieve our great aspirations—these advances can open the door to a future in which we meet the climate crisis, strengthen our economy, bolster global peace and stability, achieve robust health, and open opportunities for every individual.

All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to the deeply wonky and exceedingly important work required to build towards this future and we look forward your continued engagement and partnership.


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