The Federal Government Seeks Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is. An eWeek article titled”POTUS Signs Order Aimed at Boosting AI in Federal Agencies“, shares that a Presidential Executive Order (EO) has been signed calling for support of the U.S. government in the area of AI. This order refers to the American AI Initiative providing five steps for the signing-a-contractgovernment to prioritize investments in AI. Part of the initiative is intended to make federal data more accessible to AI research, and set governance standards in relation to how AI is developed and used. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will “lead the development of appropriate technical standards for reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, portable and interoperable AI systems.”

This Executive Order appears to provide little guidance or framework, no call for funding, and no specific directive to any relevant agency for development action. While the intention of this Executive Order may be seen as positive and a first step, without funding and more definitive sense of what increased development of AI means, we are likely to witness a similar situation as HIPPA and the definition of a patient record. It took several years to gain clarity, and even now, there is still debate as to what constitues a patient record and how it is to be managed digitally.

The questions I am left with are:

What is the purpose of AI in context of the Executive Order and its application within the U.S. government? Are we actually focusing on AI in specific areas like HealthCare, Defense, security, and data analysis or are we supporting AI development because we can and to claim we are ahead of the rest of the world in AI development with no real application?

Without context, how is NIST to effectively carry out their role in the development of standards? This is like trying to build a custom designed house input from the client or a set blueprints, and hoping you got it right.

 Without funding, how will all of this come to fruition? Without funding and a clear direction, all of this appears to be lip service to tout we are doing something that will likely be nothing. I hope I am wrong.

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