Takeaways From the White House AI Policy Report

Uncle Sam is getting serious about artificial intelligence.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget is out with new guidance – and a new set of rules – on how government agencies may use artificial intelligence when dealing with the public.

Vice President Kamala Harris was on hand at a March 28 press event in Washington D.C. to lay down the law on government use of AI. The OMB said it’s “directed sweeping action to strengthen AI safety and security, protect Americans’ privacy, advance equity and civil rights, stand up for consumers and workers, promote innovation and competition, advance American leadership worldwide, and more.”

Uncle Sam is backing the initiative with $3 billion in government funding in its fiscal 2025 budget.

Here are several big takeaways from the White House’s new AI initiative.

AI usage risk prevention

The U.S. government will mandate Federal agencies to have “concrete safeguards” on artificial intelligence to minimize any impact on citizens’ rights or safety.

“These safeguards include a range of mandatory actions to reliably assess, test, and monitor AI’s impacts on the public, mitigate the risks of algorithmic discrimination, and provide the public with transparency into how the government uses AI,” the OMB stated. “These safeguards apply to a wide range of AI applications from health and education to employment and housing.”

For instance, U.S. airport travelers will have the right to opt out of the use of TSA facial recognition without any delay or losing their place in line, the report noted.

Aim for transparency

The initiative clarifies “public transparency” with multiple new regulations. Starting December 1, 2024, federal agencies must . . .

• Release expanded annual inventories of all AI use cases, “including identifying use cases that impact rights or safety and how the agency addresses the relevant risks,” the OMB stated.
• Report AI use case metrics that otherwise might shielded from the public inventory due to “sensitivity” reasons.
• Release government-owned AI code, models, and data “where such releases do not pose a risk to the public or government operations.”

Loosen restrictions on “innovative” AI

The OMB wants to advance “responsible” AI innovation by lifting “unnecessary barriers” to Federal agencies’ responsible AI innovation.

For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is “using AI to quickly review and assess structural damage in the aftermath of hurricanes, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is developing AI to conduct more accurate forecasting of extreme weather, flooding, and wildfires,” the OMB said.

Going forward, federal agencies will have more leeway in innovating AI practices if they aid the common good, although agency oversight will remain a priority.

Build government expertise on AI

Uncle Sam also wants to grow the government’s AI imprint by directing federal agencies to “expand and upskill” AI talent.

For example, by September, the White House has committed to hiring 100 AI professionals “to promote the trustworthy and safe use of AI as part of the National AI Talent Surge created by Executive Order 14110.” The White House is also calling for regular job fairs for AI roles across the Federal Government, with the first scheduled for April 18.

The White House wants to solidify AI talent in federal agency management by designating Chief AI Officers to coordinate agency AI practices. The initiative also mandates the Establishment of AI Governance Boards, chaired by the Deputy Secretary or equivalent, to coordinate and govern the use of AI across the agency.

“As of today, the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and State have established these governance bodies, and every CFO Act agency is required to do so by May 27, 2024,” the OMB stated.

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