Skip to content

Did Barack Obama Help Create Biden’s AI Plan?

President Joe Biden recently announced a new executive order targeting the sector of artificial intelligence

President Joe Biden recently announced a new executive order targeting the sector of artificial intelligence.

With Biden’s announcement and Vice President Kamala Harris declaring new AI plans for the U.S., the country looks ready to tackle regulation on the fast-growing sector.

President Joe Biden recently announced a new executive order targeting the sector of artificial intelligence. GETTY IMAGES 

Aside from Biden and Harris, there could be another U.S. political figure pulling the strings who helped craft the country’s plan for AI.

What Happened: Biden’s executive order was aimed at placing safety as a top priority within the artificial intelligence space.

Companies that include Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:META), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL),, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), OpenAI and Anthropic gave voluntary commitments to the government for AI safety, which included allowing independent experts to test AI tools and platforms and explore risks before public launch.

Harris also announced the launch of the U.S. AI Safety Institute soon after the executive order was signed. The institute will help draw up guidelines and benchmarks to ensure the safety of AI systems.

Former President Barack Obama may have been the man behind the AI plan for the country, according to a new report from NBC News.

The report said Obama was working with the White House over the past five months in and advisory role acting quietly behind the scenes.

Obama, who was the 44th president of the U.S., led the country from 2009 to 2017 and Biden was his vice president for the eight years in office.

Biden requested Obama to conduct meetings with tech companies and West Wing aides according to the report.  

This marked the first time Biden relied on Obama to help work on a key policy item since becoming president and happened due to the former president having similar thoughts on AI. Biden also thought having Obama involved could speed up the process.

“You have to move fast here, not at normal government pace or normal private-sector pace, because the technology is moving so fast,” White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients recalled Biden previously saying.

President Joe Biden recently announced a new executive order targeting the sector of artificial intelligence. GETTY IMAGES 

In a June 2023 phone call, Biden and Obama discussed the topic with the current president asking the former president to develop a policy on artificial intelligence with his team that addressed the dangers the technology could pose, while also encouraging innovation.

Obama was said to be instrumental in getting large technology companies on board for the executive order.

“He helped really set the frame of mind that companies can innovate while also being responsible and that companies need to be accountable,” Zients added.

Why It’s Important: Obama has been exploring the potential of artificial intelligence for years. A recent post from the former president said he asked his chief science advisor to study AI seven years ago.

“In the past, governments haven’t always adapted well to this kind of transformational change, but we have an opportunity to get this right,” Obama wrote.

Obama praised the executive order announced by Biden and said Congress should follow the president’s lead to help fund the work.

Harris recently shared more on artificial intelligence and the U.S.’s goals while speaking at the U.K.’s AI Summit.

“AI has the potential to do profound good,” Harris said. “Just as AI has the potential to do profound good, it also has the potential to cause profound harm.”

The involvement of Obama could come as a surprise to many but should not as the former president may have been ahead of many in predicting the rise of artificial intelligence.

Billionaire Elon Musk recalled he had only one-on-one meeting with Obama while he was president. Instead of discussing electric vehicles such as Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) or space exploration like his company SpaceX, Musk was instead part of a conversation with Obama about AI regulation.

“The only one on one meeting I ever had with Obama as President I used not to promote Tesla or SpaceX, but to encourage AI regulation,” Musk previously tweeted.  

The new executive order from Biden and plans from the White House will likely be met with mixed responses as many see the need for regulation, but also question if the government should have control over how technology companies use AI.

Produced in association with Benzinga

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners