US must lead in ethical application of AI, says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson says government must work with the private sector to manage emerging risks associated with the technology.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (House Science Democrats / Flickr)

The U.S. must lead the world in the ethical application of artificial intelligence – as well as dominating research in the field, according to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas.

The chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology said it was clear that the way in which federal government agencies approach AI will determine America’s standing in the world in decades to come.

“We know that AI has the potential to benefit society and make the world a better place. In order for the U.S. to be a true global leader in this technology, we have to ensure that the AI we create does just that,” wrote Johnson in an op-ed on The Hill.

“Technological progress does not have to come at the expense of safety, security, fairness, or transparency. In fact, embedding our values into technological development is central to our economic competitiveness and national security,” she said. “Our federal government has the responsibility to work with private industry to ensure that we are able to maximize the benefits of AI technology for society while simultaneously managing its emerging risks.”


The intervention follows a missive from civil rights groups late last week that called on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue recommendations to prevent agencies from adopting AI systems that have discriminatory or inequitable outcomes.

NIST, which is part of the Department of Commerce, is in the process of developing a new voluntary framework that is intended to support the development and deployment of safe and trustworthy artificial intelligence.

NIST is currently soliciting public comments until Sept. 15 and will develop the framework in several iterations to allow for stakeholder input. The new framework is intended to manage the work of both public and private sector researchers.

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