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MITRE’s Response to the OSTP RFI on a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

MITRE’s data-driven response to an OSTP inquiry requesting input into drafting a National AI Strategy.

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What’s the issue? “AI has been part of American life for years, and it is one of the most powerful technologies of our generation. The pace of AI innovation is accelerating rapidly, which is creating new applications for AI across society. This presents extraordinary opportunities to improve the lives of the American people and solve some of the toughest global challenges. However, it also poses serious risks to democracy, the economy, national security, civil rights, and society at large. The Biden-Harris Administration is undertaking a process to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive approach to AI-related risks and opportunities. By developing a National AI Strategy, the federal government will provide a whole-of-society approach to AI. The strategy will pay particular attention to recent and projected advances in AI to make sure that the United States is responsive to the latest opportunities and challenges posed by AI, as well as the global changes that will arrive in the coming years.” (White House RFI)

What did we do? The Center for Data-Driven Policy led a cross-MITRE analysis of OSTP’s posed questions, seeking to uncover data and evidence from our work in the public interest that would help them understand opportunities and develop plans that are evidence-based, actionable, and effective. As OSTP plans to study prior RFI responses (in addition to this one), MITRE was silent in this response on matters in which we have already provided input.

What did we find? A “cohesive and comprehensive” National AI Strategy that provides a whole-of-society approach to AI must focus on both opportunities and risks. While strategy and policy work on AI is far from novel, prior analyses have predominantly targeted a singular benefit/issue and/or focused on a singular use case. An overall strategy can serve to place those efforts into context but, more important, to also set holistic national goals and expectations.

The application of AI technologies has tremendous potential to improve the efficiency and quality of services delivered across all sectors of society, yet AI adoption is not what it can be. This national strategy can help overcome this issue by promoting AI assurance and accountability, while also using AI to identify and overcome inequities. While doing so, we need to begin properly assessing the status quo when assessing AI options and impacts, not letting our desire to reach “perfect” blind us to solutions that are only “significantly better.”

Collaboration is key to accelerating AI innovation and ensuring appropriate use throughout the nation, as well as to ensure the nation’s future security and competitiveness. There are many forms of collaboration that must take place (including interagency, public-private, international, cross-domain, and developer-user), and there must also be collaboration across these forms for the nation to succeed. It is imperative that the nation approach collaboration on AI issues strategically and holistically, rather than as individual and disconnected endeavors. The national strategy that this RFI is supporting must set the foundation, direction, and expectation to do so, both individually and collectively.