Lawmakers want task force designing national AI resource staffed with experts

Signatories to a letter sent Tuesday also recommended adding the right to access research resources to a forthcoming AI Bill of Rights.
Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman (U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr)

Lawmakers looking to create a National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource urged federal officials to staff the task force developing recommendations on how best to implement one, in a letter sent Tuesday.

The letter sent to the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation encourages both to expand their efforts to deploy safe and ethical AI using the task force.

Established by the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force Act, the body has already held several meetings to discuss potential governance models, as well as data resources, testbeds, testing resources and user tools. But lawmakers expressed concern more AI talent is needed on staff.

“Without staff, especially those with expertise on how AI resources can be used to support the development of ethical and safe AI, we are worried that it will be difficult to accomplish
the exciting aims of the NAIRR, especially in the statutorily required amount of time,” reads the letter.


The NAIRR Task Force is expected to deliver its final report to Congress by November 2022, at which point lawmakers will decide whether to draft a bill creating a resource that democratizes access to tools AI researchers nationwide need.

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., sent the letter clarifying the intent behind the NAIRR Task Force Act. The letter further notes the “unique synergies” between task force’s work and OSTP’s development of an AI Bill of Rights.

The NAIRR Task Force Act tasks the body with recommending privacy and civil rights and liberties requirements for the resource and related research, recommendations the lawmakers want to see draw upon work on the AI Bill of Rights.

“[T]he NAIRR can be used to operationalize aims of the AI Bill of Rights, while imbuing the AI Bill of Rights with the NAIRR’s core tenet of leveling the playing field for American’s access to technology,” reads the letter.

“On the AI Bill of Rights side of the ledger, we urge you to add the right to participate in making and testing AI technology, including access to resources like the NAIRR,” the letter continues.

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