US DoC Appoints 27 Board Members to the National AI Committee

April 27, 2022 by Seth Price

The United States Department of Commerce has appointed 27 new members to the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC).

This week, the US Department of Commerce has added 27 new board members to the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee (NAIAC). Their role will be to advise the president and the National AI Initiative Office on all matters concerning artificial intelligence policy. The goal is to keep the United States at the leading edge in the field, as well as to enhance national security as it pertains to AI.

The Origins of the Committee

The formation of this committee is in accordance with the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, which addresses the competitiveness, security, workforce demands, and the state of the science of AI. Don Graves, US Deputy of the Department of Commerce, said, “Artificial Intelligence presents a new frontier for enhancing our economic and national security, as well as our way of life. Moreover, responsible AI development is instrumental to our strategic competition with China.”


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, while common inside many industrial workflows, extends to many areas of daily life. Image used courtesy of Canva


The implications of this committee formation extend to nearly every corner of our daily lives, businesses, and industry. AI is a feature included in so many new products, services, and technologies. Certainly control system engineers are not excluded, and anyone who does not currently make use of AI for analysis of machine or product data is likely looking at the horizon to make a strategic move in that direction. The decisions of a governing committee may not lead to immediate impacts, but is certainly worth considering.

Committee Member Makeup

The committee was selected by the public as announced in the call for nominations, which were due in October of 2021. The 27 members that were selected represent industry leaders, innovators, professors, and legal experts from many institutions. Represented in this panel are Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Cornell University, Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and others. The idea was to get a mix of academic, industrial, and legal advisors to navigate upcoming AI related challenges.

Upcoming Challenges

As AI gains traction in everyday life, one important consideration is making sure that the AI can detect and treat people equally. For example, consider an automated cab service where drivers hail a cab either in person or over their smart device. An AI face recognition system is used to ensure that the person who hailed the cab gets in. The AI system will need to be able to detect people of color, people of different body shapes, and people who may have changed hairstyles or colors, and added tattoos or piercings since their most recent photograph. Also, consider the AI that scans resumes from a pool of applicants - it will need to ensure that there is not a preference for a specific image instead of who will be the best fit for the job.


AI Ethics

Artificial intelligence must be capable of assisting and improving job and life qualities, but also carefully controlled to adhere to the good of society. Not just prioritizing numbers, but people. Image used courtesy of Canva


AI will also need to be developed ethically. This committee will help guide the president in a path of ethical AI development. For example, consider an AI system that scanned faces and profiled who can be trusted to shop, and who might be a potential shoplifter, based entirely on physical characteristics. Without ethical development, this system would open the door to assuming a person was guilty until they were proven innocent. This would be a violation of individual rights as well as nearly impossible, as the algorithm used by the AI would likely be proprietary.

The Future

AI will only continue to become more widespread and impact more human life. Once the brainchild of science fiction, its development will have real-world consequences. The purpose of this committee is to ensure that the development does not impact humans in a negative way by violating human rights. Also, the committee hopes to steer the direction of the nation as leaders in AI as a matter of financial and national security.

It is safe to say that AI, as with any technology, has the ability to improve many things - but it also has the potential of misuse. A committee cannot guarantee everyone’s adherence to rules, but it is the hope that the collective union of knowledgeable people can decide, inform, and recommend best practices to steer technology down the right path.