Algorithmic governance concerns are critical for US foreign policy in the 21st century as they relate intimately to the relationship between governments and their citizens – the very fabric of the world’s societies. The United States should strategically invest resources into the principal multilateral forums in which digital technology regulation is currently under discussion. In partnership with like-minded governments and international organizations, the Biden-Harris Administration should set clear priorities championing a collective digital rights agenda that considers the impact of commercial algorithms and algorithmic decision-making on both American citizens and technology consumers around the world.
These investments would build substantially upon initial forays into national AI regulatory policy advanced by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) established by Congress in August 2018 and the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence issued in January 2019. Both policy moves featured broad approaches focused on national security and competitiveness, without seriously engaging the complex and context-specific problems of international governance that must be squarely addressed if the United States is to develop a coherent approach to AI regulation.
We suggest the federal government pay special attention to impacts on people living in regions outside the geographic focus of the most prominent regulatory deliberations today – which occur almost exclusively in Washington and the developed world. Such an inclusive, global approach to digital policymaking will increase the potential for the United States to bring the world along in efforts to develop meaningful, consumer-first internet policy that addresses the economic and social factors driving digital disparities. At a time when the risk of a global “splinternet” increasingly looms, this clarified focus will help establish effective rules toward which jurisdictions around the world can converge under U.S. leadership.