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White House seeks public comment on national AI strategy

The White House wants to know about AI risks and benefits, as well as specific measures such as regulation that might help mitigate those risks.

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The White House wants public input to develop a national strategy on artificial intelligence -- including what standards and regulations are needed, and whether AI will help or hurt the economy.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a request for information (RFI) Tuesday on national priorities for AI covering a range of issues from the benefits of AI to how to mitigate AI risks. Indeed, the first question in the RFI asks about what specific measures, including standards and regulations, might be needed to ensure AI is both safely developed and deployed. Alongside the RFI, the OSTP also updated the National AI R&D Strategic Plan outlining federal AI investments.

The RFI is asking the right questions amid the recent surge in the popularity of AI, Forrester Research analyst Brandon Purcell said. New AI tools such as OpenAI's ChatGPT have resulted in the rapid adoption and implementation of the technology along with growing concerns about the generation of misinformation and inaccurate information.

The White House -- and the government in general -- is grappling with the acceleration in AI advancements just as the private sector is.
Brandon PurcellAnalyst, Forrester Research

"The White House -- and the government in general -- is grappling with the acceleration in AI advancements just as the private sector is," Purcell said.

White House wants guidance on AI's future

Purcell said the RFI, which is not yet available for public comment on, will likely tell how heavy-handed the White House wants to be from a federal regulatory perspective.

Some of the questions the White House wants answered are as follows:

  • What will the principal benefits of AI be for the people of the United States?
  • What potential harms and tradeoffs might come from leveraging AI across the economy?
  • How can the federal government work with the private sector to ensure procured AI systems include protections to safeguard people's rights and safety?
  • What are the global labor force implications of AI across economies?

Regulating AI has become a hot topic globally. The European Union is developing regulatory measures such as the AI Act, while China is developing its own rules for AI use. However, offering overarching AI regulation is not an approach Purcell believes the U.S. will take in the long run.

The EU was the first "when it came to an overarching privacy regulation with the GDPR," Purcell said. "The U.S. has not issued a similar regulation -- instead, it's happening at the state level."

Purcell said the RFI will give businesses an understanding of the direction the White House might go in with future AI guidance and regulation. This is information that might help with their own AI deployments.

The announcement "signals to the private sector that the White House is trying to figure things out and that they are emphasizing responsibility, which means ensuring fairness and transparency," he said. "So as enterprises adopt these systems, they need to also be ensuring they're doing so in a responsible way."

Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget Editorial, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.

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