Shaping the Future: The Call for Comment on AI Usage Policies
Nov. 21, 2023—At the beginning of the month, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a draft policy on artificial intelligence (AI) for comment. The policy is open for public review until Dec. 5, 2023, and is focused on three pillars:
- strengthening AI governance,
- advancing responsible AI innovation, and
- managing risks from the use of AI by mandating safeguards for any usage that impacts the rights and safety of the public.
For professionals in university-industry research partnerships, it’s a timely opportunity to ensure these policies reflect the needs of the research landscape and to share insight that can shape the future of the United States’ relationship with AI and AI R&D.
Policy and participation process
The White House press release on the draft policy lays out some of the goals of the new guidance. These include establishing AI governance structures in federal agencies, advancing responsible AI innovation, increasing transparency, protecting federal workers, and managing risks from government usage of AI. Notably, the guidance proposes that federal agencies must designate chief AI officers, individuals who will advise other leaders in the agency on AI, as well as oversee AI risks and the use of AI in the agency’s mission. The guidance also mandates that agencies increase their capacity to adopt AI into their operations and develop an enterprise AI strategy. Additionally, the memorandum requires agencies to follow certain practices when using AI that impacts the rights and safety of citizens, and establishes a set of recommendations for addressing risks in the context of federal procurement.
OMB posed several questions regarding the draft policy, but noted that comments are welcome on any topic that has implications for the content of the memorandum. They seek insight into the chief AI officer role with consideration of agency diversity, effective AI governance models, strategies to promote responsible AI innovation, and more. Comments can be submitted on the regulations website on or before Dec. 5, 2023. Visit ai.gov/input for the full draft policy, fact sheet, and more.
U-I partnership implications
While drafted for implementation in federal agencies, the policies outlined in OMB’s memorandum have the potential to be far-reaching. AI is already part of daily life for many in the United States. Federal agencies are using AI in their operations in ways that impact a range of sectors, from health care to transportation and the environment. Many companies and institutions work with or receive funding from the federal government, and as has been the case with other new technology, federally-imposed rules and standards for agencies affect those working with the federal government.
Whatever the final policy, federal adoption of AI guidance will influence the funding, direction, and regulatory environments in which cross-sector research partnerships operate. Considering the role that university-industry collaboration plays in AI and machine learning research, now is the time to express a research-based perspective on the proposed policy and to point out potential impacts to the depth and breadth of AI R&D anticipated in the coming decades. This expert insight should be leveraged to ensure that AI can be used responsibly and effectively.
Why it matters
The call for comments is a pivotal opportunity for stakeholders to advocate for policies that align with the needs of the research landscape now and in the future. AI policies for federal agencies have far-reaching implications for AI use in research and will be a foundation for AI technical advances for years to come. For universities and companies, submitting comments on OMB’s draft AI policy will ensure that future frameworks will continue to enable collaborations, address concerns and risks for cross-sector partnerships, and create an environment in which AI can be a useful and safe tool for all.
We want to hear from you. Have you or your organization commented on the draft AI policy from OMB? Let us know on our LinkedIn profile.