With much of the world’s focus still residing in the Middle East—and the rest rightly directed toward Arlington, Texas, for the Rangers World Series parade later today—the Executive Order on AI issued by President Biden earlier this week has gone largely unnoticed.
It represents the president’s latest attempt to get in front of the increasingly concerning advancements in the realm of artificial intelligence and comes as Vice President Kamala Harris is in Britain to join other world leaders and prominent tech figures in a global discussion on the subject.
Biden’s hope is that the Order “establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more.”
To that end, he outlined a number of initiatives that the White House will take to regulate the companies developing the technology, as well as the ways in which both the private and government sectors can use AI going forward. In addition, he also called on Congress to pass legislation that would more formally codify many of those same initiatives—an important, though more difficult, step considering the limits of how far his office can go to enforce these rules.
And while it is impossible to know how much these new initiatives will actually accomplish, there is perhaps reason to hope given that many of the companies at the heart of these issues have partnered with the White House in outlining the next steps.
Why Big Tech is helping the US government with AI safety
As Josh Boak and Matt O’Brien note, “The U.S., particularly its West Coast, is home to many of the leading developers of cutting-edge AI technology, including tech giants Google, Meta and Microsoft, and AI-focused startups such as OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT. The White House took advantage of that industry weight earlier this year when it secured commitments from those companies to implement safety mechanisms as they build new AI models.”
These companies have decided to partner with the government, in part, because it is often the people building the next generations of artificial intelligence that seem to be the most afraid of what it might do.
Earlier this year, for example, Elon Musk and more than a thousand experts and executives within the industry wrote an open letter calling for a six-month pause in developing new AI systems. While both industry leaders and government officials recognize the enormous potential for growth in the realms of medicine, security, education, and a host of others, they are also acutely aware of the risks. Moreover, President Biden has talked in the past about the ways in which the government failed by not addressing the risks associated with social media until it was too late to do much more than damage control. They, and many of these companies, hope to not to make the same mistake with AI, where the consequences could be even more dire.
However, those past experiences with attempts at regulating social media could be motivating companies to partner with the government for another reason as well.
As Akayla Gardner describes, Big Tech is likely also hoping that by working with the president now, it will “save the industry from having the government bringing down the hammer much harder in the future.” And therein lies the lesson we most need to take from this story today.
“The good he had prepared for you”
While the government is not God—a truth they tend to forget from time to time—their burgeoning relationship with the companies developing artificial intelligence serves as a helpful parable for understanding a key component of our relationship with the Lord.
Scripture is clear that when our sin takes us outside of God’s will, there will be consequences (Galatians 6:7). And though that cost may be delayed at times, it doesn’t go away. As such, it is much better to work with God than to wait for him to correct us when we go off the right path. That doesn’t mean the Lord can’t redeem our mistakes, but it’s still far better to have never committed them in the first place.
C. S. Lewis described this principle well when he said of God, “Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost forever.”
As Christians, we must not make the mistake of giving up the good that God has prepared for us simply because it’s not what appeals to us in the moment. The Lord wants to direct our path because he alone knows what is ultimately best for us and for his kingdom. But he also loves us enough to give us the freedom to make that choice for ourselves.
So which path will you choose?
Will you take the road that seems best to you, deciding that it’s worth the risk of God “bringing down the hammer” to correct you in the future? Or will you let the Lord lead and submit to his will as you partner with him in advancing his kingdom?
Put that way, the choice should be simple. And, ultimately, it is. But it’s also one that all of us get wrong from time to time when we lose sight of what is really at stake.
So take some time now to pray and ask God if there are any ways that you have strayed from his will. If the Holy Spirit brings any to mind, repent and commit to whatever steps are required to correct those mistakes.
And don’t wait to do so. Every day spent outside of his will is filled with moments and opportunities you can’t get back.
Let’s make sure we don’t miss them today.