Senate Introduces National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence

The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act is the first comprehensive Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy to address the needs of a changing workforce and help the federal community understand this emerging technology. U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have heralded this as a bipartisan bill to invest $2.2 billion over five years to “build an AI-ready workforce, accelerating the responsible delivery of AI applications from government agencies, academia, and the private sector over the next 10 years.”

In a joint statement, the Senators explained that the legislation would establish a National AI Coordination Office, an AI Interagency Committee, and an AI Advisory Committee. The Interagency Committee would be comprised of senior leaders throughout the federal government while the Advisory Committee would include non-governmental experts.

The bill would also require the National Institute of Standards and Technologies to identify metrics which could be used for evaluating AI algorithms and their effectiveness. This requirement builds upon the  Algorithmic Accountability Act introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) earlier this year to combat bias in algorithms.

The National Science Foundation would also be responsible for fostering research and development goals for addressing algorithm accountability, explainability, data bias, and privacy as well as societal and ethical implications of AI. The foundation would also award at least five grants to create centers dedicated to researching both the technical and educational aspects of AI and AI’s impact on society.

The Department of Energy would also create an AI research program. The bill would establish up to five Artificial Intelligence Research Centers to include institutions of higher education and national laboratories.

“Artificial intelligence – and the opportunities and challenges it will bring – are becoming seemingly inevitable. Now is the time to formulate AI workforces and policies to keep these innovations on a responsible path,” said Senator Heinrich.

Senator Portman furthered, “By coordinating and synchronizing our country’s research and development efforts, this bill ensures not just that the United States remains an AI leader, but that it does so by developing AI technology that prioritizes American values.”

Senators Heinrich and Portman formed the bipartisan Senate AI Caucus in March 2019.

Posted in From the Hill

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