Finally, the executive order on its own is insufficient for tackling all the problems posed by advancing AI. Executive orders are inherently limited in their power and can be easily reversed. Even the order itself calls on Congress to pass data privacy legislation. “There is a real importance for legislative action going down the road,” Ho says. King agrees. “We need specific private sector legislation for multiple facets of AI regulation,” she says.
Still, every expert Scientific American spoke or corresponded with about the order described it as a meaningful step forward that fills a policy void. The European Union has been publicly working to develop the E.U. AI Act, which is close to becoming law, for years now. But the U.S. has failed to make similar strides. With this week’s executive order, there are efforts to follow and shifts on the horizon—just don’t expect them to come tomorrow. The policy, King says, “is not likely to change people’s everyday experiences with AI as of yet.”