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Remarks of Assistant Secretary Redl at Forum Europe: Artificial Intelligence 2018

Remarks of David J. Redl
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information
Forum Europe: Artificial Intelligence 2018
Brussels, Belgium
October 18, 2018

--As Prepared for Delivery--

Thank you. It’s great to be here in Brussels to discuss the exciting promise of artificial intelligence and how the U.S. government is preparing for the future of AI.

For anyone unfamiliar with the agency I lead, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, we are an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that is principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues.

NTIA is involved in all aspects of Internet policy, and that gives us a unique position within the U.S. government. Our approach is guided by a longstanding commitment to a free and open Internet and minimal barriers to the global exchange of information and services.

A major portion of NTIA’s work includes researching and developing policy on emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence. We work with other agencies and multistakeholder organizations to develop policy in areas that relate to or support AI applications, such as privacy, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, to name a few.

We also play a significant role in the expansion of connectivity and wireless and broadband infrastructure. NTIA is the manager of all federal government use of spectrum, and it is our mission is to expand the use of spectrum and broadband around the country. Many of the advances in AI will depend on this connectivity, and we expect that as we move toward the widespread deployment fifth-generation wireless networks, even more AI applications that require high-bandwidth connections will come into play.

Right now, we are at an inflection point. Artificial intelligence as a concept – and as a research area – is not new, but we are seeing tremendous growth in novel applications of AI and deployment of AI in consumer-facing technologies. This is the result of decades of research as well as incredible growth in computational power, storage capacity, and the availability of data.

Many consumers today use AI on a regular basis without even realizing it, when they call on Alexa to play a song or Siri to find a restaurant. AI is also being used in medical diagnostics, network security, agriculture, and the growing domains of “smart” things, like smart buildings, smart cities, smart highways, and so on.

The U.S. is excited to watch industries transform along with these advances, and continues to focus its policy efforts on building a supportive regulatory environment. 

We believe that stakeholder-driven policymaking processes are key to fostering ingenuity and promoting emerging technology. These processes enable the development of controls and best practices in a manner that is as flexible and speedy as the technological innovations we’re seeing today.

Domestically, NTIA has made progress on a number of AI-related issues through multistakeholder processes, as I’ve previously mentioned. Last year we convened a collaborative effort that produced recommendations and guidance on how to make sure that Internet of Things devices were upgradeable and patchable. Prior to that, we worked on improving coordinated vulnerability disclosures.

This summer, we brought together stakeholders to discuss the merits of greater transparency around software components. The idea is that you can’t secure your connected products if you don’t know that part of it is vulnerable.

We have also begun engaging with stakeholders to better understand how to adapt consumer privacy to today’s data-driven world. We are looking at how we can provide high levels of consumer protection while giving business legal clarity and flexibility to innovate. The Trump Administration has made it a priority to promote AI and machine learning, and NTIA is engaged with a number of AI-related activities across the federal government. Earlier this year, the Administration formed the White House Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence to coordinate federal efforts around AI. 

The U.S. government is advancing AI through research and development, removing regulatory barriers to implementation and training our workforce for the future. We are also taking steps to leverage AI and machine learning to improve government services.

The White House Select Committee is also currently soliciting public input on updates to our National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, to ensure that U.S. R&D investments remain at the cutting edge.  We hope that you will read and comment on this important document.

I’d also like to mention that our sister agency at the Commerce Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, considers AI a strategic priority. NIST, as they’re known, is uniquely positioned to deliver tools to measure and understand AI technologies and their underlying data to broadly address the performance, trustworthiness, and reliability concerns that may otherwise stifle innovation.

NIST is working with academia, government, and industry to develop standards for the design, construction, and use of AI systems.

As we engage with our colleagues domestically, we’re also excited to work with our international partners on expanding adoption and trust in artificial intelligence technologies. 

Along with the U.S. Department of State, NTIA is participating in the OECD’s experts group on artificial intelligence. We are also actively following developments in the G7 process, especially under Japan’s leadership, and the G20 digital economy consultation process.

The experts group at the OECD is comprised of academics, government officials, and technologists who are developing high-level principles for how to enable artificial intelligence adoption in our economies. We believe this work has the potential of making a meaningful statement from governments on how to approach policymaking for an AI-enhanced future. 

I’ll close by saying that I’m very happy to be here, and that today’s event has been a great opportunity to hear European perspectives on the future of AI and its potential effects on European consumers and industries. I look forward to our continued engagement on this important topic.

Thank you.