A dizzying array of AI ethics, policies, and technical working groups already in play among Federal departments and agencies has led to an overall body of policies that may be incomplete, inconsistent, or incompatible with each other, a new report says.

The report produced by the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) outlines a general approach for mitigating risks with varying Federal-level AI policies, including:

  • Framework for identifying all categories of policy related to AI;
  • A review of current AI policy, legislative, and regulatory activities;
  • An assessment of the current Federal AI policy environment; and
  • Recommendations for using the framework to promote a comprehensive, consistent, and accurate Federal AI policy environment.

“This report deliberately does not create, suggest, or recommend specific AI policy. Instead, we provide a general framework and an assessment of the current state of Federal government AI policy,” the ATARC report says.

The report indicates that many cooks are currently stirring the AI policy stew.


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Among the Federal authorities that are now developing AI policy: the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, General Services Administration, National Security Commission on AI, Commerce Department, Office of Management and Budget, and the Senate and House AI Caucuses. Additionally, there are currently 10 agencies and organizations developing AI policy or technologies focused on their own implementation of policy, rather than taking a cross-government approach.

“In many ways, developing an AI program is no different from developing any software application. The motivation is generally a problem to be solved or a question to answer,” ATARC said.

In preparing for the evolving nature of national AI policies, the report says there needs to be time to “carefully and deliberately” develop the policy environment where the U.S. government can create, procure, and regulate these technologies.

“The emergence of AI as a driving force in technology, economics, philosophy, and culture has not escaped the U.S. government’s attention,” the report says. “Dramatic demonstrations of AI capabilities range from self-driving cars to autonomously coordinated drone flights to Alexa and systems that can assess MRI scans better than humans.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.