December 26, 2020

Landmark artificial intelligence legislation should become law

By Tony Samp

Tucked away in the 4,517-page annual defense bill awaiting signature is an overlooked piece of legislation on artificial intelligence (AI).

Don’t worry, America. It doesn’t make every military weapon system autonomous or require brigades of robotic infantry. Instead, it’s a sensible, 63-page plan establishing a civilian-led initiative to coordinate and accelerate investments in “trustworthy” artificial intelligence systems across the federal government. In passing this legislation, the United States Congress has demonstrated that it collectively realizes that AI will be transformative, and that urgent research and development is needed to ensure the United States remains the world leader in AI.

AI will touch every sector — from agriculture to healthcare, to transportation to national security.

Make no mistake, the “National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020,” also dubbed as “Division E” of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is the closest thing to a national strategy on AI from the United States to be formally endorsed by Congress. Division E required painstaking negotiations and bipartisan sign-off from nearly 20 committees. The fact that this many committees — each with different jurisdictions, staff, and personalities — in Congress had their handprints on this legislation is a reminder of how difficult moving a bill through the legislative process actually is; but more importantly, it is an indicator of how significant and far-reaching AI technology will be on our society and the economy. It will touch every sector — from agriculture to healthcare, to transportation to national security — and every individual will be impacted in some form or fashion whether it be their jobs, privacy, safety, or livelihood.

Read the full article in The Hill.

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