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White House wants nominees for AI and facial recognition committees

White House wants nominees for AI and facial recognition committees

NIST is looking for people to sit on a pair of new AI advisory committees. Those selected to serve will be profiling the state of AI development in the United States and, in particular, development in law enforcement.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s goal is to get expert insight into how the nation’s public and private spheres can lead the world in creating and deploying trustworthy systems that are a net benefit to the economy and job market. Facial recognition is singled out for attention.

Nominations for the general committee and, separately, the law enforcement subcommittee are open through October 25. The groups were legislated as part of the National AI Initiative Act passed last year.

On the broadest level, members will advise the White House on progress toward the ultimate AI prize, general intelligence. They also will report on legal, safety, ethical and security matters related to AI.

Assuming an active membership, nominees likely will spend a great deal of time on those matters in relation to facial recognition, an area where NIST has made a global impact.

Indeed, as clearly important as that will be for the nation’s chief executive in making informed decisions, the meat of it all will be examined in the law enforcement subcommittee.

Policing and, to lesser extents, business and national defense roles, are where the heat is in AI policy.

Civil- and human-rights advocates argue that use of the technology by the private sector and government agencies already hurts politically and economically disadvantaged populations in the United States.

The advocates will doubtless point to the book-report nature of the advisory groups and the lack of requirements to come up with specific policy recommendations.

Members of the law enforcement subcommittee, for example, will be charged with finding out if bias is being considered in AI development and whether facial recognition “should be subject to additional oversight, controls, and limitations.”

That sounds fairly passive given that many of the biggest private players in facial recognition have themselves have admitted they would like national regulations to follow.

Then there is the ongoing controversy regarding Clearview AI’s face-scraping business model and sales of services to U.S. police.

Industry players also pay close attention to both who is nominated and how the committees frame issues.

The AI committee will be required, after an inaugural report, to send reports to the White House at least once every three years, a century in AI development time.

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