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CHIPS Articles: National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Releases Interim Report to Congress with five fundamental lines of effort

National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Releases Interim Report to Congress with five fundamental lines of effort
By CHIPS Magazine - November 5, 2019
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) released its Interim Report to Congress Nov. 4 and will share its initial assessments from the report with Congress, government, industry, academia, non-profits, associations, and the public Nov. 5 in a conference titled, “Strength Through Innovation: The Future of AI and National Security,” according to a press release.

The 15 members, including chairman Eric Schmidt, the former head of Google parent Alphabet, and vice chairman Bob Work, the former deputy secretary of defense, bring to the Commission a diverse set of views from academia, private sector, and government. The Interim Report reflects the consensus view of all Commission members. The Commissioners agreed to seven principles and 27 initial judgements to guide their work going forward. The full report is located here.

“As NSCAI’s report conveys, U.S. leadership in promoting trust and innovation in artificial intelligence is imperative to the future of our nation’s security and economy. Through the President’s American AI Initiative, in collaboration with the private sector, academia, the public, and like-minded international partners, the Administration is executing a whole of government approach to ensure continued U.S. leadership in AI. This includes efforts underway to promote AI research and development, prepare the workforce of the future, develop technical standards for reliable, robust, and trustworthy AI, and remove regulatory barriers to AI innovation. We thank the NSCAI for its contributions and look forward to continuing this important conversation,” said Michael Kratsios, Chief Technology Officer of the United States.

Congress gave the Commission a broad mandate to examine AI through the lens of national competitiveness, the means to sustain technological advantage, trends in international cooperation and competitiveness, ways to foster greater investment in basic and advanced research, workforce and training, potential risks of military use, ethical concerns, establishment of data standards, and the future evolution of AI.

The report states how the United States adopts AI will have profound ramifications for our nation’s immediate security, economic well­being, and position in the world.

The Report’s seven principles are:

(1) Global leadership in AI technology is a national security priority.

(2) AI adoption for national security is an urgent imperative.

(3) Private sector leaders and government officials must build a shared sense of responsibility for the welfare and security of the American people.

(4) We must cultivate homegrown AI talent and continue to attract the world's best minds.

(5) Actions taken to protect America's AI leadership from foreign threats must preserve principles of free inquiry, free enterprise, and the free flow of ideas.

(6) At a basic level, there is a convergence of interests and concerns between national security officials and those in the AI development and ethics community. Everyone wants safe, robust, and reliable AI systems; at the same time, today's technical limitations are widely recognized.

(7) Any use of AI by the United States must have American values — including the rule of law — at its core.

This report identifies five fundamental lines of effort that are necessary to preserve U.S. advantages: Invest in AI Research and Development (R&D); Apply AI to National Security Missions; Train and Recruit AI Talent; Protect and Build Upon U.S. Technology advantages; and Marshal Global AI Cooperation.

The Commissioners have held 17 working group meetings and 4 plenary sessions in the past 8 months, and the Commission’s staff has held more than 200 engagements with industry, academia, the government, and civil society groups. The NSCAI is committed to collaborating with, and providing timely recommendations to Congress and the executive branch.

“The United States will have to confront hard choices between economic and security interests, between maintaining our openness and protecting our innovation economy from strategic competitors, and between commercial and national objectives, all the while balancing short and long-term considerations,” said NSCAI Chair Dr. Eric Schmidt. “We are a pro-America Commission, and the final report will say how we will win this competition.”

The Commission is an independent federal entity, and its goal is to complement and strengthen ongoing AI-related efforts in the executive branch and Congress, while also making additional recommendations to integrate artificial intelligence into national security programs. The Commission and its staff have received more than 200 classified and unclassified briefings since the Commission began work in March 2019. They will continue to reach out to academia, industry, non-profits, associations, and government to formulate recommendations for the final report.

Along with cautionary imperatives, the report expresses optimism for the future of AI development.

“We are optimistic that public officials will support AI investments to protect our national security and sustain our economic prosperity. We are confident that academia and private industry—especially universities and firms at the frontlines of AI research, development, and application—are willing to reconceive their responsibilities for the health of our democracy and the security of our nation.”

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