Smart Regulations: The Oversight of Artificial Intelligence


Morgan Lewis

The Obama administration's National Science and Technology Council released a report on artificial intelligence (AI) last week that shared findings on the current state of AI and its potential effect on society. The council analyzed how the adoption of AI into existing products (e.g., cars and aircraft) will affect current regulatory schemes and vice versa.

According to the report, the comments submitted in response to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy's June 2016 Request for Information generally contended that existing regulatory structures, with adaptations only when necessary, were sufficient to address AI’s effects and maintain the original policy goals of such existing regulations. The report stressed the importance of the government engaging technical experts when drafting new regulations for AI products. In analyzing the unique challenges of regulating AI in "safety-critical environments," the report explored the relationship between regulations and the adoption and impact of AI in the transportation areas. The report cited several key issues, including translating human responsibilities to software and developing data sets that allow machine-learning systems to encounter rare tests cases. In response to these challenges, the report recommended creating "testbeds" (designated testing areas) to collect vital data and encouraging information sharing among federal and private entities.

An additional legal consideration for controlling the effect of AI is the interplay between federal and state regulatory schemes. The report points to the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, which in part provides a model state policy, delineates federal and state roles, and allows for state experimentation, as an example of how to encourage a consistent legal scheme that could apply to AI’s adoption into existing products across the United States.

In addition to these legal considerations and example responses, the report covers AI research, AI’s fairness and safety, and international considerations applicable to AI. The Obama administration is set to continue its study of AI and release a complementary report on the effect of AI-driven automation on the economy in the near future.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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