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National Science Foundation Seeks Comments on Artificial Intelligence, Continuing Policy Makers’ Focus on AI

The National Science Foundation is seeking public comment on US policy for artificial intelligence, according to the Federal Register Notice of Request for Information (RFI) filed in September 26, 2018.  Specifically, the RFI requests input from the public as to whether the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan (AI Strategic Plan) should be updated or improved.  Comments to the RFI are due to the National Science Foundation by October 26, 2018.

In October 2016, after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) under President Obama solicited comments and held a series of events on how the US can best prepare for the future of artificial intelligence, the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Subcommittee (NITRD) published the AI Strategic Plan to guide the government’s artificial intelligence research and development efforts. The AI Strategic Plan laid out the following priority objectives for federally-funded artificial intelligence research occurring both within and outside the government:

  • Strategy 1: Make long-term investments in AI research.
  • Strategy 2: Develop effective methods for human-AI collaboration.
  • Strategy 3: Understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI.
  • Strategy 4: Ensure the safety and security of AI systems.
  • Strategy 5: Develop shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing.
  • Strategy 6: Measure and evaluate AI technologies through standards and benchmarks.
  • Strategy 7: Better understand the national AI R&D workforce needs.

Building upon these efforts, on May 10, 2018, the OSTP under President Trump held a summit on “Artificial Intelligence for American Industry” and chartered a new Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence under the NSTC to “address significant national and international policy matters that cut across agency boundaries” and “provide a formal mechanism for interagency policy coordination and the development of Federal artificial intelligence activities, including those related to autonomous systems, biometric identification, computer vision, human-computer interactions, machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics.”

Following the OSTP’s May summit and the first meeting of the new Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, which were open by White House invitation only, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and a number of science and technology organizations and academics petitioned the OSTP to solicit comments from the broader public on US national policy for artificial intelligence.  In particular, the EPIC petition called for the OSTP and the Select Committee to examine and address artificial intelligence’s challenges concerning privacy, public safety, transparency, fairness, and accountability.

Artificial intelligence poses a myriad of potential challenges to privacy, security, accountability, fairness, ethics, and intellectual property rights, among other areas.  But artificial intelligence also offers unquantifiable opportunities to redefine business and society through increased productivity, innovation and growth.  In addition to reviewing Hogan Lovells’ guide to navigating artificial intelligence’s strategic challenges, industry stakeholders may wish to consider filing comments to this new RFI to highlight artificial intelligence’s beneficial use cases and the steps industry may already be taking to address the strategic challenges raised by artificial intelligence, particularly in the areas of privacy and cyber security.