AI Commission Wants to Know How Government Can Help Industry Boost Commercial Innovation

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Answers to a new request for comments will inform the group’s final report.

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence invited small- and medium-sized AI-focused firms to share their thoughts on how the government should work with industry to fortify commercial innovation of the now widely-used, evolving technology. 

Information collected through a request for comments, which the commission posted in the Federal Register Wednesday, will inform an upcoming report the group is slated to publish early next year. 

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 established the commission as an independent federal entity, instituting and directing it “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of [AI], machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States." Since its standing, commissioners have launched multiple white papers and recommendations for Congress and the executive branch, and produced an initial report on its work and plans and an interim, first assessment on artificial intelligence in the realm of national security.

NSCAI’s final report—with full analysis and recommendations—is due March 2021, and will incorporate learnings gained from the request released this week.

In the document, the commission asks relevant entities to weigh in on all, some or one of a range of questions it lists. The intent is not “to limit topics that may be addressed by respondents, but rather focus attention on key areas the Commission has identified as relevant to catalyzing AI innovation, expanding the national security innovation base, and making it easier for firms to do business with the federal government,” officials wrote.

Specifically, NSCAI asks people to share input on the barriers they encounter when pursuing business with the federal government to scale effective AI solutions and how to reduce them, when the government is and is not a compelling customer, and how the government can “incentivize responsible AI development through acquisition.” On top of several other questions, the commission also asks about gains that might accompany temporary talent exchanges between the federal government and private sector, and how both sectors can “better collaborate through all stages of product development to safeguard against bias in AI systems.”

The deadline for comment submissions is set for October 23, and the commission will hold a virtual public meeting October 8. 

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