NIST has released a plan for prioritizing federal agency engagement in the development of standards for artificial intelligence (AI) . The plan recommends the federal government “commit to deeper, consistent, long-term engagement in AI standards development activities to help the United States to speed the pace of reliable, robust, and trustworthy AI technology development.” It calls for federal agencies to bolster AI standards-related knowledge, leadership and coordination among agencies that develop or use AI; promote focused research on the trustworthiness of AI systems; support and expand public-private partnerships; and engage with international parties.
On Feb. 11, 2019, President Donald J. Trump issued the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence (EO 13859).
Among its objectives, the EO aims to “Ensure that technical standards minimize vulnerability to attacks from malicious actors and reflect Federal priorities for innovation, public trust, and public confidence in systems that use AI technologies; and develop international standards to promote and protect those priorities.”
The EO directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create “a plan for Federal engagement in the development of technical standards and related tools in support of reliable, robust, and trustworthy systems that use AI technologies.” NIST is committed to fulfilling that responsibility in a timely way, engaging the public and private sectors in producing a plan within 180 days.
The EO’s language provides directions and a 180-day timetable for NIST to deliver the plan for federal standards-related engagement:
“Sec. 6 (d) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), shall issue a plan for Federal engagement in the development of technical standards and related tools in support of reliable, robust, and trustworthy systems that use AI technologies. NIST shall lead the development of this plan with participation from relevant agencies as the Secretary of Commerce shall determine.
(i) Consistent with OMB Circular A-119, this plan shall include:
(A) Federal priority needs for standardization of AI systems development and deployment;
(B) identification of standards development entities in which Federal agencies should seek membership with the goal of establishing or supporting United States technical leadership roles; and
(C) opportunities for and challenges to United States leadership in standardization related to AI technologies.
(ii) This plan shall be developed in consultation with the Select Committee, as needed, and in consultation with the private sector, academia, non‑governmental entities, and other stakeholders, as appropriate.”