AI Legislation Languishes in Congress.

Author:Berge, Alexandra
Position::NDIA Policy Points

When the general public hears the term "artificial intelligence," minds often race to scenes from movies like Terminator or they begin to think about popular rhetoric predicting robotic infiltration of the workplace and the accompanying human job displacement.

These unscientific notions represent the U.S. public's fascination and unfortunate misunderstanding of these advanced technologies. Complex AI is a transformative advanced technology used to complete tasks traditionally requiring human intelligence. It encompasses an array of computational capabilities often classified as "narrow" or "general" depending on the complexity of the assigned tasks, making it difficult to create one standardized, inclusive definition.

Poor comprehension of AI also extends to Congress. Unlike the public, however, Congress' policymaking responsibilities make its knowledge deficit harmful to the country, hindering progress on policy, leaving the nation disadvantaged in the global competition for technological supremacy, and possibly creating unanticipated consequences for citizens.

To shrink its knowledge deficit, Congress should establish a joint advisory committee composed of private sector technology experts and top public sector research-and-development professionals by passing the proposed bill, "Fundamentally Understanding the Usability and Realistic Evolution of Artificial Intelligence Act of 2017," or FUTURE of AI Act. Whether Congress creates legislation or not, AI will continue to develop transforming Americans' way of life for better or worse.

In December 2017, Rep. John K. Delaney, D-Md., along with eight cosponsors, introduced the bipartisan act into Congress. Along with formally defining AI, the legislation also proposes establishing a federal advisory committee. The committee would consist of two member classes: non-governmental professionals from academia, research, private industry, civil society and labor organizations, and governmental professionals from federal agencies and departments.

The committee would educate and inform policymakers on the implications and functions of AI and recommend policy options. The proposal includes private sector participants because they enjoy substantially more research and funding opportunities in advanced technology.

Collaboration among government personnel creates opportunities to clearly define a standardized government strategy. This partnership also allows the public sector to leverage commercial...

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