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White House’s ‘AI Bill of Rights’ Codifies Ethical Use, Privacy

The collaborative document aims to keep AI ethical and equitable while standardizing best practices at the federal level.

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Artificial intelligence is showing much promise for driving efficiencies across the federal government, but many leaders want to alleviate concerns regarding ethical use of AI and potential bias inherent in some algorithms and data sets fueling the technology. The White House’s newly released AI Bill of Rights aims to codify some of these solutions across all of government — an effort underpinning presidential priorities around holding government accountable and improving trust.

“Automated technologies are driving remarkable innovations and shaping important decisions that impact people’s rights, opportunities, and access. The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights is for everyone who interacts daily with these powerful technologies — and every person whose life has been altered by unaccountable algorithms,” White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director Alondra Nelson told GovCIO Media & Research.

The AI Bill of Rights was created in consultation with major federal agencies, including considerable input and expertise drawn from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII), as well as with feedback from the American public. This collaboration contributed to the core protections of the strategy, including safe and effective systems, data privacy, notice and explanation, and alternative options.

“OSTP has identified five principles that should guide the design, use and deployment of automated systems to protect the rights of the American public in the age of artificial intelligence,” NAII Director Dr. Gil Alterovitz told GovCIO Media & Research right after an announcement during VA’s annual BRAIN Summit. “Developed through extensive consultation with the American public, these principles are a blueprint for building and using technologies in ways that are rooted in democratic values and protect civil rights.”

The AI Bill of Rights builds off the foundation created by the December 2020 Trustworthy AI Executive Order that outlined nine distinct principles to ensure agencies “design, develop, acquire and use AI in a manner that fosters public trust and confidence while protecting privacy.”

As Alterovitz explained, the AI Bill of Rights condenses these into a framework that seeks to reconcile technical advancement in ways that advance the core values of American civil society.

Alterovitz noted that “NAII [has] established four strategic goals for fiscal years 2022 through 2026” which he summarized as:

“Providing cutting-edge AI research, projects and pilots to enhance outcomes and experiences for Veterans and VA staff. Providing sought-after thought leadership and frameworks for the implementation of trustworthy AI. Building strategic partnerships across the private sector, the federal government and the research community to maximize AI’s potential to benefit veterans, and continuing to develop the NAII organization and workforce to meet the growing AI needs of those serving veterans.”

As the largest integrated health care system in the country, VA’s artificial intelligence research and in-house capacities lends to its pivotal role in advising on the AI Bill of Rights and may set precedence for future applications of the technology across the government.

“The practices laid out in the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights aren’t just aspirational; they are achievable and urgently necessary to build technologies and a society that works for all of us,” Nelson added.

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