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Get ready for Team America: AI Police

Biden Admin expands plan for 'responsible' ML research and seeks to drive international talks on making binary brainboxes behave

The US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has updated its National AI R&D Strategic Plan for the first time since 2019, without making enormous changes.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new efforts that will advance the research, development, and deployment of responsible artificial intelligence that protects individuals' rights and safety and delivers results for the American people," the White House declared this week. 

The updated plan [PDF] outlines strategies that are largely the same as those recommended under the previous administration. This version adds a strategy, we note – exploring and fostering international cooperation to develop AI technologies affecting global issues, such as the environment and manufacturing. 

It also changes one of the strategies: 2019's "Make long-term investments in AI research" becomes "Make long-term investments in fundamental and responsible AI research" in the 2023 document.

The unchanged aims are:

  1. Develop effective methods for human-AI collaboration.
  2. Understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI.
  3. Ensure the safety and security of AI systems
  4. Develop shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing.
  5. Measure and evaluate AI systems through standards and benchmarks.
  6. Better understand the national AI R&D workforce needs.
  7. Expand public-private partnerships to accelerate advances in AI.

And then there's the new strategy: "Establish a principled and coordinated approach to international collaboration in AI research."

International collaboration, with the USA convening and driving debate, is a signature tactic for president Biden. In this case he appears to be using it to drive debate on concerns about how AI impacts data privacy and safety, and to address the issue of biases in generative AI. 

"Artificial intelligence is one of the most powerful technologies of our time. In order to seize the opportunities that AI presents, the nation must first work to manage its risks," warns the National AI R&D Strategic Plan.

"The federal government plays a critical role in this effort, including through smart investments in research and development that promote responsible innovation and advance solutions to the challenges that other sectors will not address on their own."

The White House is particularly interested in understanding the theoretical capabilities and limitations of models, robotics, and hardware – especially if they can be applied to drive technologies in climate change, agriculture, energy, and healthcare. The plan emphasizes building general purpose systems that can "perceive and act" in real and simulated environments. 

"Most AI R&D thus far has focused on the advancement of AI for individual tasks. Additional work is needed to solve increasingly difficult science and technology challenges covering multiple domains and applications, moving toward the vision of general-purpose AI," the report said.

To understand potential risks, the OSTP issued a request [PDF] for information inviting the public to comment on how AI might impact national security, democracy, and job loss. It read: "The Biden-Harris Administration is undertaking a process to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive approach to AI-related risks and opportunities. By developing a national AI strategy, the federal government will provide a whole-of-society approach to AI."

"The strategy will pay particular attention to recent and projected advances in AI, to make sure that the United States is responsive to the latest opportunities and challenges posed by AI, as well as the global changes that will arrive in the coming years." ®

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