Recently, key stakeholders from both the Legislative and Executive branches took steps to advance the debate over how the U.S. government should encourage the benefits and mitigate the risks of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”).  In Congress, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Information Technology released a bipartisan white paper that made various recommendations based on findings from a three-part series of hearings focused on AI.  In the Executive branch, the National Science Foundation published a Request for Information (“RFI”) to inform an update to the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan.  Both moves signal a continuing interest in and consideration of AI development as a national priority.

Bipartisan Congressional AI Report

Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX) and Robin Kelly (D-IL), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Information Technology, released a white paper on September 25, 2018 recommending increased engagement on AI by Congress and the Administration.  The white paper (“Rise of the Machines: Artificial Intelligence and its Growing Impact on U.S. Policy”) presented four overall recommendations:

  • Workforce: Federal, state, and local agencies should “engage more with stakeholders on the development of effective strategies for improving the education, training, and reskilling of American workers to be more competitive in an AI-driven economy.”  In addition, the federal government should “lead by example by investing more in education and training programs that would allow for its current and future workforce to gain the necessary AI skills.”
  • Privacy: Federal agencies should “review federal privacy laws, regulations, and judicial decisions to determine how they may already apply to AI products within their jurisdiction, and – where necessary – update existing regulations to account for the addition of AI.”
  • Biases: Federal, state, and local agencies that use AI systems to make decisions about people “should ensure the algorithms supporting these systems are accountable and inspectable.”
  • Malicious Use of AI: the government should take more active steps to “consider the ways in which [AI] could be used to harm individuals and society, and prepare for how to mitigate these harms.”

National Science Foundation RFI

In October 2016, the National Science and Technology Council’s (“NSTC”) Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Subcommittee (“NITRD”) published “The National Artificial Intelligence Research And Development Strategic Plan” (the “Strategic Plan”) in order to establish a set of objectives for federally-funded AI research.  The ultimate goal of this federally-funded research is to “produce new AI knowledge and technologies that provide a range of positive benefits to society, while minimizing the negative impacts.”  The plan identifies seven priorities to achieve this goal:

  • Make long-term investments in AI research;
  • Develop effective methods for human-AI collaboration;
  • Understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI;
  • Ensure the safety and security of AI systems;
  • Develop shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing;
  • Measure and evaluate AI technologies through standards and benchmarks; and
  • Better understand the national AI research and development workforce needs.

On May 10, 2018, the White House created a Select Committee under the NSTC and tasked it with “improv[ing] the coordination of federal efforts related to AI and ensur[ing] continued U.S. leadership in AI.”  As part of this effort, the NITRD and the new Select Committee are undertaking efforts to update the Strategic Plan to reflect current priorities.

On September 26, 2018, the National Science Foundation published an RFI seeking inputs that would inform this update to the Strategic Plan. Specifically, the RFI requested input regarding national AI research and development needs, workforce needs, and how the Strategic Plan otherwise could be improved.  The comment period closed on October 26th, and the Select Committee (in consultation with both the NSTC Subcommittee on Machine Learning and AI and the NITRD AI Research and Development Interagency Working Group) will now move forward with reviewing stakeholder inputs and updating the Strategic Plan.