DOJ names its first chief AI officer

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The new role is intended to focus on building a tech-ready workforce and interagency cooperation.

The Department of Justice welcomed Jonathan Mayer as its inaugural chief science and technology advisor and chief artificial intelligence officer on Thursday, signaling the agency’s readiness to harness AI systems for bureaucratic operations.

Mayer will work closely with Attorney General Merrick Garland to deepen the agency’s understanding of AI and other more emerging technologies in relation to cybersecurity, according to an agency press release. 

His role is also intended to jumpstart the agency’s cultivation of a tech-savvy workforce and work cross-departmentally on technological issues.

“The Justice Department must keep pace with rapidly evolving scientific and technological developments in order to fulfill our mission to uphold the rule of law, keep our country safe, and protect civil rights,” Garland said in the press release. “Jonathan’s expertise will be invaluable in ensuring that the entire Justice Department — including our law enforcement components, litigating components, grantmaking entities, and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices — is prepared for both the challenges and opportunities that new technologies present.” 

The chief AI officer will operate from DOJ's Office of Legal Policy. The new role was a requirement of President Joe Biden’s October 2023 executive order on AI. 

Mayer joins DOJ from the computer science department at Princeton University. His previous government service includes stints as a technology policy advisor to current Vice President Kamala Harris when she served in the Senate, and as chief technologist at the Federal Communications Commission.