US senators introduce legislation to boost government’s use of AI

Written by Sam Trendall on 2 October 2018 in News
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Although ‘C-3PO isn’t yet a reality’, cross-party quartet wants to make it easier for federal agencies to adopt new technologies

Credit: Gordon Tarpley/CC BY 2.0

A cross-party group of US senators have put forward legislation designed to enable and promote the use of artificial intelligence across the federal government.

The AI in Government Act proposes the expansion of an existing AI-focused unit with the federal government’s central agency – the General Services Administration. This unit would provide AI advice to other agencies, as well as trying to drive better cooperation with industry and undertaking research designed to feed into policymaking.

The act also includes proposals for the establishment of a government AI advisory board, and a mandate for the federal Office of Personnel Management to explore the creation of a new or updated government profession based on AI. The act also recommends that the Office of Management and Budget should, as part of the US government’s data strategy, include plans for investing in AI and implementing new technologies.


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The AI in Government Act was introduced last week by two senators from each of the major parties: Republicans Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rob Portman of Ohio; and Democrats Brian Schatz of Hawaii and California’s Kamala Harris.

Gardner said: “While C-3PO isn’t yet a reality in today’s world, artificial intelligence certainly is. Our bill will bring agencies, industry, and others to the table to discuss government adoption of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. We need a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges these technologies present for federal government use and this legislation would put us on the path to achieve that goal.”

Schatz – who is the most senior member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet – added: “The United States won’t have the global competitive edge in AI if our own government isn’t making the most of these technologies. This bill will give the federal government the resources it needs to hire experts, do research, and work across federal agencies to use AI technologies in smart and effective ways.”

The act has already garnered the support of a number of tech companies and industry organisations, including Microsoft, Intel, CompTIA and the Business Software Alliance.

The proposed legislation will now be referred to the appropriate congressional committee for further examination and debate.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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