This Group Pushes More AI in U.S. Security — and Grows Big Tech
In addition to Schmidt and Jassy, members include Andrew Moore, Google’s head of cloud AI; Safra Catz, co-CEO of Oracle; Eric Horvitz, Microsoftthe director of research; Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense who helped start the Pentagon’s new pivot towards AI, and former Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
The panel began work in 2019 and issued a series of interim reports and recommendations before delivering its end. 756-page opus in March. It comes with pre-planned legislation so lawmakers can copy and paste the group’s ideas into law and draft executive orders for the White House.
The commissioners also appeared at congressional hearings, including one DEVOTED on group recommendations. At a February hearing by the House Armed Services committee, Schmidt warned that “the threat to China’s leadership in key technology areas is a national crisis and must be addressed directly, right now.”
Ylli Bajraktari, who serves as executive director of NSCAI, said Congress ’action on the commission’s recommendations indicates that the group is doing its job. “I think Congressional leaders understand that we lack this important technology to dominate our lives,” he said. “We are pleased with the bipartisan support.”
Asked if the group is more focused on the technology industry, Bajraktari pointed out that most of the 15 commissioners are not from the technology industry and are appointed by legislators and government agencies. The group consulted with “hundreds of private sector and academic companies, as well as international allies and partners” before making recommendations, he said.
When WIRED asked technology companies if their involvement with the commission created conflicts of interest, their answers largely ignored the question. Oracle did not respond to a request for comment.
Moore, Google’s head of Cloud AI, said he is honored to serve on the commission and that he hopes this and other projects “will strengthen American AI’s leadership and develop a stronger of the AI workforce. ” Amazon WIRED was mentioned in Jassy’s comments at a public meeting in March of the group, where she talked about the need for “meaningful urgency” on the issues it highlighted. Microsoft’s Horvitz said he spearheaded the commission’s work on “Reliable and Ethical AI” and said in a statement that he found all commissioners, regardless of their affiliation, to be firmly committed to the mission: the national security and prosperity of the United States. ” A spokesman for Schmidt said he was appointed to the commission because of his technology expertise and filed the necessary ethical papers, which were reviewed by Pentagon attorneys.
The commission’s final report argued that placing AI systems with “American values” was part of global technology competition. “The more our commissioners think, the more it becomes clear that one thing that sets us apart from China is how we use these technologies,” Bajraktari said.
Some of the recommendations are being considered by Congress for inclusion in the next defense budget. One would need national security agencies and armed service branches to have a member of senior leadership working full-time on “responsible AI.” Another requires a formal assessment of the risks to privacy and civil liberties for any AI system involving U.S. citizens.
Ben Winters, an attorney who works on AI issues at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, supports some of the proposals, but he says the commission’s recommendations generally rely more on deployment, than restraint, AI.
The result is in line with some AI ethics suggestions from the tech industry, he said, that lack enough grounding to meet the scale of the challenges posed by technology. “The tenor of the recommendations of the majority is‘ We need to continue to adopt AI so that we don’t lose to China, ’” Winters said. “They have failed to recommend comprehensive privacy law or any concrete rights of people affected by harmful AI.” EPIC won a lawsuit against the commission that compelled the disclosure of several documents, including the commissioners ’conduct forms, but details of the disclosures were redacted.