Act to Improve Federal Use of AI Introduced
The legislation would improve the use of AI across the federal government by providing resources and directing federal agencies to include AI in data-related planning.
The act was introduced by U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
“The United States won’t have the global competitive edge in AI if our own government isn’t making the most of these technologies,” said Sen. Schatz, the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. “This bill will give the federal government the resources it needs to hire experts, do research, and work across federal agencies to use AI technologies in smart and effective ways.”
“While C-3PO isn’t yet a reality in today’s world, artificial intelligence certainly is,” said Sen. Gardner. “Our bill will bring agencies, industry, and others to the table to discuss government adoption of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. We need a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges these technologies present for federal government use and this legislation would put us on the path to achieve that goal.”
The AI in Government Act would:
- expand an office within the General Services Administration to provide technical expertise to relevant government agencies; conduct forward-looking, original research on federal AI policy; and promote U.S. competitiveness through agency and industry cooperation;
- establish an advisory board to address AI policy opportunities and challenges for executive agencies;
- direct the Office of Management and Budget to establish a strategy for investing and using AI as part of the federal data strategy; and
- direct the Office of Personnel Management to identify skills and competencies for AI and establish a new or update an existing occupational series.
“Artificial intelligence will have significant impacts for our country, economy, and society,” said Sen. Portman. “Ensuring that our government has the capabilities and expertise to help navigate those impacts will be important in the coming years and decades. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure our government understands the benefits and pitfalls of this technology as it engages in a responsible, accountable rollout of AI.”
“Artificial intelligence has the potential to benefit society in ways we cannot imagine today,” said Sen. Harris. “We already see its immense value in applications as diverse as diagnosing cancer to routing vehicles. The AI in Government Act gives the federal government the tools and resources it needs to build its expertise and in partnership with industry and academia. The bill will help develop the policies to ensure that society reaps the benefits of these emerging technologies, while protecting people from potential risks, such as biases in AI.”
The legislation has been endorsed by BSA, Center for Democracy and Technology, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Intel, Internet Association, Lincoln Network, Microsoft, Niskanen Center, and R Street Institute.
“As artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies become more common, the government must look ahead to the role it will play as both an adopter and a regulator of these technologies,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president of policy for the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Carefully considering its own uses of AI would allow the federal government to offer services in better and smarter ways, support and improve AI research, and avoid pitfalls like bias in automated decisions. CDT applauds the ‘AI in Government Act’ and hopes it can bring about a comprehensive approach to representing the public interest as the government adopts and deploys new technologies.”
“The AI in Government Act of 2018 sponsored by Sens. Gardner and Schatz will help U.S. federal agencies better utilize emerging technologies like AI for the public interest,” said Lisa Malloy, who leads U.S. government affairs for Intel. “Using AI will not only drive better use of taxpayer funds by empowering agencies to tackle problems better and faster, but also create efficiencies that help cut waste, fraud and abuse—all important public policy goals.”
“Creating a Tech Policy Lab and an advisory board to guide the government on emerging technologies is fundamental to establishing needed policies for use of AI, like facial recognition,” said Fred Humphries, corporate vice president of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft. “This bill is a good approach.”