What impact could Biden’s executive AI order have on marketing?

Dec 1, 2023 by
What impact could Biden’s executive AI order have on marketing?

In just under a year, AI has gone from being science fiction to science fact and the world is reshaping itself around this definitive technology.

Of course, it’s been simmering away for decades now, but we appear to have crossed the Rubicon now and global governments are (finally) starting to pay attention, with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rather publicly sitting down with Elon Musk just last week to wax lyrical on the potential (and dangers) of the tech.

On the other side of the pond, however, there’s been less talk and more action, with US President Joe Biden’s executive order on artificial intelligence (AI), signed on October 30, 2023, presenting several implications for society as a whole and many, specifically, for the marketing industry.

The order, which builds upon the voluntary commitments of 15 leading tech organisations, mandates stricter oversight of marketing tools that use consumer data and AI algorithms, emphasising the importance of testing, reporting, and protecting privacy as AI capabilities expand. As a result, digital marketers using AI tools in the US, particularly in ad targeting, content generation, and consumer analytics, may face increased scrutiny and pressure to improve transparency.

For marketers, this executive order impacts several key areas:

AI-Generated Content

The order addresses the use of generative AI in content creation, particularly in relation to fraud. The Department of Commerce is tasked with developing guidelines for content authentication and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content, which will be crucial for content marketers to monitor closely​​.

Algorithmic Discrimination

The executive order insists that developers work to address algorithmic discrimination. This focus on eliminating bias in AI software could allow marketers to collect and analyse data more effectively and fairly​​.

Tighter Oversight of Marketing Tools

The order mandates stringent safety testing and reporting for AI systems, focusing on protecting privacy as AI capabilities expand. This means that marketing tools using consumer data and AI algorithms, such as those for ad targeting, content generation, and consumer analytics, may come under increased scrutiny​​​​.

Emphasis on Privacy and Ethics

Companies relying on consumer data to train AI systems might need to reassess their practices due to strengthened privacy rules. The order supports AI innovation but firmly opposes unethical uses. As a result, marketers should anticipate more monitoring of opaque AI tools that could lead to discrimination or deception​​​​. Because while we have control of the lead (or leash), the dog still has a mind of its own.

Impact on Data Privacy and AI Content

The executive order calls for bipartisan data privacy legislation aimed at protecting privacy against risks posed by new AI technologies. This legislation could significantly alter how marketers collect, store, and use audience data.

Ultimately, this new regulatory environment will likely necessitate a focus on ethics and consumer benefit in AI practices, demanding more transparency and caution around data collection. The order also encourages fair competition in AI development and use, potentially leading to antitrust actions against marketing tech companies misusing their position. This is something that Google themselves have already found themselves on the receiving end of, so it’s certainly not without precedent.

Of course, embracing ethical AI could also provide a competitive advantage for marketers, as consumers increasingly demand fair treatment and AI could help with transparency, as long as it’s used properly. The best way to ensure you’re keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak, is to ensure you regularly audit algorithms, minimise consumer data collection wherever possible, and always be open and honest about when you’re using AI.