Lawmakers urge officials from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to staff the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) task force with AI experts in a letter sent Tuesday.

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., sent the letter clarifying the intent behind the NAIRR Task Force Act. The explicit aim for the NAIRR was to democratize access to AI resources, diversifying those working on “cutting edge AI research and making an investment in the next wave of American competitiveness,” the letter read.

NSF and OSTP have held several meetings to discuss potential governance models for the task force. In addition, they have discussed data resources, testbeds, testing resources, and user tools. However, lawmakers expressed concern that more AI talent is needed on staff for the task force.

“Without staff, especially those with expertise on how AI resources can be used to support the development of ethical and safe AI, we are worried that it will be difficult to accomplish the exciting aims of the NAIRR, especially in the statutorily required amount of time,” the letter stated.

Additionally, while lawmakers are optimistic about the value of the NAIRR, they remain concerned regarding the negative impacts AI could have on civil rights and liberties. Therefore, the NAIRR Task Force Act directs the NSF and OSTP to recommend privacy and civil rights and liberties requirements for AI resource and related research, based on language from the AI Bill of Rights.

“The NAIRR can be used to operationalize aims of the AI Bill of Rights while imbuing the AI Bill of Rights with the NAIRR’s core tenet of leveling the playing field for American’s access to technology,” the letter read.

Lawmakers saw unique synergies between the work of the Task Force and the development of the AI Bill of Rights. Therefore, lawmakers explicitly included this logistic in the legislation. The hope was that any assessments made by the Task Force draw upon the AI Bill of Rights to articulate rules for the ethical use of AI.

“In reiterating the congressional intent undergirding the NAIRR Task Force, we encourage you to expand your ongoing efforts related to developing and deploying safe and ethical AI and urge you to use the NAIRR Task Force as a valuable tool in those efforts,” the letter stated.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.