The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today launched an inquiry seeking comment on “what policies will help businesses, government, and the public be able to trust that Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems work as claimed – and without causing harm.” Assistant Secretary of Commerce and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson announced the request for comment in an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Cyber Law, Policy, and Security.
Pointing in particular to advances in health and medicine and applications to problems such as climate change, Davidson said AI technologies “will create new opportunities to improve people’s lives.” But, he said, “it is also becoming clear that there is cause for concern about the consequences and the potential harms to AI use,” including bias in financial and hiring systems, and malign uses of generative AI systems to create propaganda and disinformation.
“We think about, not just what the law says today, but what the law ought to say,” says @DavidsonNTIA. @NTIAgov released a request for comment today and is looking for public feedback on how to create accountable AI ecosystems. https://t.co/knlWPAzPLF pic.twitter.com/RScnyT5AZY— Pitt Cyber (@PittCyber) April 11, 2023
“We want to be pro-innovation, but we also want to protect people’s rights and safety,” said Davidson, stressing the urgency of addressing AI in line with rapid developments in industry. Davidson pointed to the Biden administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights as one artifact of the President’s commitment to this issue. NTIA is the agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy.
In a panel discussion following the announcement, NTIA Senior Advisor for Algorithmic Justice Ellen P. Goodman said the goal is to create policy that ensures safe and equitable applications of AI that are transparent, respect civil and human rights, and are compatible with democracy. “We’re talking here about how people can be assured, in fact, that a system is trustworthy, before a system is deployed, and then on an ongoing basis,” said Goodman.
Comments are due to to NTIA by June 10, 2023.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.