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Commerce Department creates an artificial intelligence committee

Committee fulfills commitments laid out under January defense bill

The US Department of Commerce has created a committee to advise government decision makers on artificial intelligence (AI)-related issues. The Department said the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee (NAIAC) would advise the president and other federal agencies on the technology. 

In January, the National AI Initiative Act of 2020 mandated the committee when it was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. It also created a National Artificial Intelligence Initiative, which would promote US leadership in AI research and coordinate AI efforts across federal agencies. As part of the initiative, the Act established a National AI Initiative Office (NAIIO) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP). 

The committee has input from the secretaries of state, defense and energy; the OTSP director; the director of national intelligence; and the attorney general. 

The committee's duties include reporting on progress in implementing the national AI initiative. It will also explore various issues, including equity and racial justice, US competitiveness in AI, and how AI affects the workforce. Committee members will advise how the US government can best cooperate with other countries on AI and promote accountability and legal rights. 

The Department of Commerce is working with the NAIIO to recruit committee members from academia, industry, nonprofits, civil society, and federal laboratories. As an agency within the Department of Commerce, NIST will also promote responsible AI use while providing administrative support. 

This work follows concerns over government competitiveness in AI and cross-agency handling of AI issues. In March, another government-commissioned group sounded the alarm about the dangers to national security if the federal government didn't increase its focus on AI. 

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