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Sunday, July 14th, 2024

PREPARED for AI Act proposes guardrails for any federal use of artificial intelligence

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U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) recently introduced the PREPARED for AI Act, which calls for safeguards on any use of artificial intelligence (AI) by the federal government by the creation of certain standards focused on safe adoption and critical assessment.

“Artificial intelligence has the power to reshape how the federal government provides services to the American people for the better, but if left unchecked, it can pose serious risks,” Peters, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “These guardrails will help guide federal agencies’ responsible adoption and use of AI tools, and ensure that systems paid for by taxpayers are being used safely and securely.”

PREPARED – or the Promoting Responsible Evaluation and Procurement to Advance Readiness for Enterprise-wide Deployment – for AI Act would focus on both responsible purchasing and use. Going forward, agencies would need to assess and address any risks posed by their AI prior to purchase and deployment. The bill would also mandate pilot programs to test more flexible and competitive purchasing practices, while requiring agencies to classify the risk levels of their AI uses.

Federal agencies have ramped up the purchase and use of AI systems in recent years, amid a public and private frenzy for the latest technology craze that has yet to die down. In fact, the government already utilized AI to interact with and make decisions about the public, and the senators noted that use of these systems will only grow from here.

They did not poke at the efficiency AI could provide, but they did note the risks of improper use. Notably, the bill would require any government contracts for AI to include safety and security terms for data ownership, civil rights and liberties, privacy, adverse incident reporting and more. On top of this, agencies themselves would need to identify, test and monitor any potential risks related to the technology, and follow certain AI governance structures throughout.

“As the role of artificial intelligence in the public and private sectors continues to grow, it is crucial federal agencies have a robust framework for procuring and implementing AI safely and effectively,” Tillis said. “This legislation mandates clear guidelines for federal agencies and provides them with the tools to successfully navigate future advancements in artificial intelligence.”

A number of technology and AI-linked organizations promptly backed the bill, from the Center for Democracy & Technology, to the Transparency Coalition.AI, AI Procurement Lab and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

“The U.S. must ensure that innovation does not come at the expense of its citizens,” Dr. Gisele Waters and Dr. Cari Miller, co-founders of the AI Procurement Lab, said in a statement. “Historical values that procurement promotes—price, competition, and innovation—do not adequately address the transparency, expertise, and oversight needed to manage AI risk. The PREPARED for AI Act helps to address these government challenges.”

The bill also required public disclosures and reporting practices for any governmental use of AI systems.