The public sector has a need to expand artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities across American government.
A July 2023 memo from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) acknowledges as much, with OPM Director Kiran Ahuja identifying more than 50 skills and competencies needed for positions related to AI, “to help the federal government recruit and train more AI talent.”
A new Biden administration executive order looks to kickstart “a governmentwide AI talent search” as part of an effort to hasten the hiring of the AI professionals needed to “ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence,” according to a White House fact sheet detailing the new directive.
Principles and Best Practices
Issued on Oct. 30, the order includes a number of “sweeping actions” designed to drive the safe and responsible development of AI—setting new standards for AI safety and security, and passing bipartisan data privacy legislation, for instance.
The White House also looks to ensure responsible and effective government use of AI.
“AI can help government deliver better results for the American people,” according to the aforementioned fact sheet. “It can expand agencies’ capacity to regulate, govern and disburse benefits, and it can cut costs and enhance the security of government systems.”
The just-issued order does note the risks associated with AI, such as discrimination and unsafe decisions. The order directs a number of actions to make sure the government responsibly deploys AI, such as issuing guidance for agencies’ use of AI, including the clear standards to protect rights and safety, improve AI procurement and strengthen AI deployment; and helping agencies acquire specified AI products and services, faster, more cheaply and more effectively.
The directive also calls for the rapid hiring of AI professionals as part of an “AI talent surge” across government, with agencies such as OPM, U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Corps and the Presidential Innovation Fellowship leading the way. Agencies will provide AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields, according to the White House.
“AI is changing America’s jobs and workplaces, offering both the promise of improved productivity, but also the dangers of increased workplace surveillance, bias and job displacement,” the White House fact sheet read.
To mitigate these risks, the order calls on government employers to support workers’ ability to bargain collectively, and to invest in workforce training and development that is accessible to all, urging a number of actions to this end. For example, the administration directs agencies to develop principles and best practices to mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers by addressing job displacement; labor standards; workplace equity, health and safety; and data collection.
“These principles and best practices will benefit workers by providing guidance to prevent employers from undercompensating workers, evaluating job applications unfairly, or impinging on workers’ ability to organize,” according to the White House, which also set expectations for the production of reports on AI’s potential effects on the labor market, as well as studying and identifying options to strengthen federal support for workers facing labor disruptions, including from AI.
In the days since its release, the executive order is “drawing strong reviews from both federal and industry experts who applauded the order’s focus on seizing the promise and managing the risk of [AI],” wrote MeriTalk’s Cate Burgan.
Center for Democracy and Technology CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens, for example, told MeriTalk that the order is a meaningful step on the path toward the responsible development of AI’s tremendous potential.
Saying that the administration is “rightly underscoring” the need to deploy artificial intelligence responsibly, Reeve Givens said her organization expects that the order will address key components of AI risk management and “lift up several key areas where AI is currently deployed,” such as the workplace, housing, education and government benefits programs.
“These directly reflect demands from civil society,” she said. “Actions to address the use of AI for tracking workers’ activities, tenant screening systems, administering public benefits, in education and in the criminal justice system are all welcome steps at a critical time.”
03 November 2023
HR News Article