President Biden’s executive order on artificial intelligence is a much needed first step in developing safeguards to ensure that this technology does not widen existing racial disparities in housing, lending, credit, and other consumer products that rely on algorithms and private consumer data.
AI mines information from a wide range of sources and carries serious risk of fraud, discrimination, and threats to privacy and liberty. It is essential to take action now to evaluate how to use AI safely and responsibly rather than allowing automated decision-making systems to expand in a manner that curtails civil rights and impedes equitable access to safe housing and financial products. We must ensure that AI products are implemented in ways that expand access to credit and wealth-building opportunities rather than restrict them because they rely on already-flawed data that discriminates against people of color, justice-involved individuals, and low-income communities.
It is essential to develop thoughtful rules for how AI is implemented now and to build in systems to evaluate how it affects consumers in the future. This first step must be followed by meaningful legislative and regulatory action to build an effective structure to ensure that AI’s potential for progress outweighs its potential for damage.
Odette Williamson, Director of NCLC’s Racial Justice and Equal Economic Opportunity Project