White House Kicks Off Effort to Develop Artificial Intelligence Standards

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The administration wants public feedback to help shape the National Institute of Standards and Technology-led effort.

The Trump administration wants the public to weigh in on standards and tools needed to advance intelligent technology.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy seeks insight into developing technical standards around artificial intelligence, according to a request for information launched Wednesday. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will coordinate the RFI and all AI-standards related endeavors, as directed by the February executive order on AI leadership.

Deputy Assistant to the President for Technology Policy Michael Kratsios said in a statement that the RFI is a direct deliverable set forth by the president’s American AI Initiative.

“The information we receive will be critical to Federal engagement in the development of technical standards for AI and strengthening the public’s trust and confidence in the technology,” Kratsios said.

The executive order on AI directs NIST to issue a set of standards and tools that will guide the government in its adoption of the nascent tech and this RFI marks the beginning of the agency’s development of those standards. NIST said it aims to gain input “through an open process” that envelops both this new RFI and other opportunities, including a public workshop.

Through the comments received from the RFI, NIST ultimately aims to better understand the present state, plans, challenges and opportunities related to the development and availability of AI technical standards and related tools. The agency is also interested in gauging the priority areas for federal involvement in activities related to AI standards and the present and future roles agencies can play in helping develop AI standards and tools to meet America’s needs.

Some of the major areas about which NIST is seeking information include technical standards and guidance needed to advance transparency, privacy and other issues around the trustworthiness of AI tech; the urgency of U.S. need for AI standards; the degree of federal agencies’ current and needed involvement to address the governments’ needs; roadmaps and other documents about plans to develop AI and further information around AI technical standards and tools that have already been developed, as well as information on the organizations that have done so.

The document encourages respondents to define “tools” and “standards” as they wish.

The agency also defines AI technologies and systems broadly, noting in the RFI that they “are considered to be comprised of software and/or hardware that can learn to solve complex problems, make predictions or solve tasks that require human-like sensing (such as vision, speech, and touch), perception, cognition, planning, learning, communication, or physical action.”

“Examples are wide-ranging and expanding rapidly,” it said.

Comments in response to the notice must be sent to NIST via mail or email by May 31. The agency plans to post submissions on its website in the future.

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