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White House Unveils AI Governance Policy: A Roadmap for Federal Agencies

The White House has released its long-awaited artificial intelligence (AI) governance policy, setting a framework for federal agencies' management and use of the technology. Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the collaborative effort behind the policy, stating, "President Biden and I intend that these domestic policies will serve as a model for global action."

The policy, outlined in a 34-page memo from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda D. Young, builds on President Joe Biden's October AI executive order. It mandates agencies to evaluate and monitor the impact of AI on the public and mitigate the risk of discrimination. This includes provisions like allowing opt-outs from facial recognition at airports and requiring human oversight in healthcare diagnostics.

Additionally, the policy expands disclosures that agencies must share publicly, including whether AI use impacts rights or safety. Agencies are also required to designate chief AI officers (CAIOs) to oversee their AI usage. "This is to make sure that AI is used responsibly," Harris said, highlighting the importance of senior leadership in AI oversight.

The National AI Talent Surge, established under the order, aims to hire "at least 100 AI professionals into government by this summer," according to Young. The OMB will also take action on federal procurement of AI and is releasing a request for information on the matter.

Experts in the field have weighed in on the policy. Craig Burland, CISO at Inversion6, praised the administration's balanced approach, stating, "The government's commitment to human oversight of AI for highly personal and highly impactful decisions is both sensible and prudent given the immaturity of AI." He also noted the balance between adding oversight and lowering barriers for agencies where appropriate.

Katie Bowen, VP of Public Sector at Synack, emphasized the importance of security in AI deployment, saying, "Any serious conversation around 'responsible' AI innovation should include security test planning from the beginning." She applauded the OMB's emphasis on testing AI and reviewing cybersecurity practices in light of fast-moving technologies.

Brandon Torio, AI Specialist at Synack, expressed his support for the proactive approach, saying, "It’s important that we press agencies to recognize this risk and get everyone up to speed on what responsible AI – with cybersecurity in mind – really looks like." He also called for more detailed federal policy in the future, including guidance on actively pen testing AI and attaching concepts like vulnerability disclosure programs to AI.

The White House's AI governance policy represents a significant step in addressing the complexities and risks associated with AI technology. As federal agencies implement these guidelines, the focus on responsible AI usage, transparency, and human oversight aims to ensure that the benefits of AI are realized while minimizing its potential negative impacts on society.


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