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Artificial Intelligence

White House Announces Artificial Intelligence Summit Gathering Academia, Business and Government

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WASHINGTON, May 8, 2018 — The White House on Tuesday announced it would hold an Artificial Intelligence summit, which will “bring together over 100 senior government officials, technical experts from top academic institutions, heads of industrial research labs, and American business leaders who are now adopting these emerging technologies to benefit their customers, workers, and shareholders.”

The event will take place Thursday, May 10, and is being organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It will be hosted by U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.

Kratsios, 31, serves as Trump’s Deputy Assistant for Technology Policy at OSTP, which is part of the Executive Office of the President. OSTP has a broad mandate to advise the president on the effects of science and technology on national and international affairs.

Under Trump, the OSTP has largely been neglected since the former real estate mogul and reality tv star took office.

While the office boasted a staff of 135 people under former director John Holdren, who held the position under then-President Barack Obama, Trump’ OSTP has only around 50 people on staff.

Kratsios lacks the advanced academic degrees held by his predecessors at OSTP

While previous technology advisers have usually held advanced degrees, including Holdren, who had a Ph.D. from Stanford, Kratsios holds only a bachelor’s degree in political science and a certificate in Hellenic studies from Princeton University.

His experience with technology is limited to having spent time working for venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, where among other things he served as chief of staff to Peter Thiel, a prominent supporter of President Trump who is known for being an early investor in Facebook.

Thiel, it was later revealed, funded the invasion of privacy lawsuit by Hulk Hogan, and which forced Gawker Media into bankruptcy after a jury returned a $140 million verdict against the company. The dispute was later settled for $31 million. Gawker Media had previously published unflattering articles about Gawker, and appeared to publicly “out” Thiel as gay in 2007.

Summit comes at a time of growing anxiety about China’s AI capabilities

Thursday’s event will take place in the shadow of a looming behemoth: A Chinese government that has embraced AI as a national priority, even as the current U.S. administration gives science and technology matters short shrift compared with its predecessor.

Last July, China announced plans to become the world leader in AI by 2030 by playing midwife to an AI industry it hopes will be worth $150 billion. An English translation of the announcement compared the project to the U.S. race to the moon in the 1960s.

While the U.S. government under President Obama released a similar report by the National Science and Technology Council in October 2016, President Trump has expressed little interest in technology policy matters.

According to the White House, planned topics for discussion will include AI research and development (R&D), workforce development, regulatory barriers to AI innovation, and sector-specific applications of AI. Industry attendees will include executives from diverse business sectors including technology, food and agriculture, energy and manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and transportation and logistics.

A previous version of this story listed Michael Kratsios as the acting director of OSTP. According to a senior administration official, the “official serving the duties of [OSTP] Director” is Ted Wackler, a career civil servant.

Photo: Michael Kratsios / Official White House photo

Andrew Feinberg was the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

Artificial Intelligence

AI Should Compliment and Not Replace Humans, Says Stanford Expert

AI that strictly imitates human behavior can make workers superfluous and concentrate power in the hands of employers.

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Photo of Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, in January 2017 by Sandra Blaser used with permission

WASHINGTON, November 4, 2022 – Artificial intelligence should be developed primarily to augment the performance of, not replace, humans, said Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, at a Wednesday web event hosted by the Brookings Institution.

AI that complements human efforts can increase wages by driving up worker productivity, Brynjolfsson argued. AI that strictly imitates human behavior, he said, can make workers superfluous – thereby lowering the demand for workers and concentrating economic and political power in the hands of employers – in this case the owners of the AI.

“Complementarity (AI) implies that people remain indispensable for value creation and retain bargaining power in labor markets and in political decision-making,” he wrote in an essay earlier this year.

What’s more, designing AI to mimic existing human behaviors limits innovation, Brynjolfsson argued Wednesday.

“If you are simply taking what’s already being done and using a machine to replace what the human’s doing, that puts an upper bound on how good you can get,” he said. “The bigger value comes from creating an entirely new thing that never existed before.”

Brynjolfsson argued that AI should be crafted to reflect desired societal outcomes. “The tools we have now are more powerful than any we had before, which almost by definition means we have more power to change the world, to shape the world in different ways,” he said.

The AI Bill of Rights

In October, the White House released a blueprint for an “AI Bill of Rights.” The document condemned algorithmic discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or age and emphasized the importance of user privacy. It also endorsed system transparency with users and suggested the use of human alternatives to AI when feasible.

To fully align with the blueprint’s standards, Russell Wald, policy director for Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, argued at a recent Brookings event that the nation must develop a larger AI workforce.

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Artificial Intelligence

Workforce Training Needed to Address Artificial Intelligence Bias, Researchers Suggest

Building on the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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Russell Wald. Credit: Rod Searcey, Stanford Law School

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2022–To align with the newly released White House guide on artificial intelligence, Stanford University’s director of policy said at an October Brookings Institution event last week that there needs to be more social and technical workforce training to address artificial intelligence biases.

Released on October 4, the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights framework by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is a guide for companies to follow five principles to ensure the protection of consumer rights from automated harm.

AI algorithms rely on learning the users behavior and disclosed information to customize services and advertising. Due to the nature of this process, algorithms carry the potential to send targeted information or enforce discriminatory eligibility practices based on race or class status, according to critics.

Risk mitigation, which prevents algorithm-based discrimination in AI technology is listed as an ‘expectation of an automated system’ under the “safe and effective systems” section of the White House framework.

Experts at the Brookings virtual event believe that workforce development is the starting point for professionals to learn how to identify risk and obtain the capacity to fulfill this need.

“We don’t have the talent available to do this type of investigative work,” Russell Wald, policy director for Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, said at the event.

“We just don’t have a trained workforce ready and so what we really need to do is. I think we should invest in the next generation now and start giving people tools and access and the ability to learn how to do this type of work.”

Nicol Turner-Lee, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, agreed with Wald, recommending sociologists, philosophers and technologists get involved in the process of AI programming to align with algorithmic discrimination protections – another core principle of the framework.

Core principles and protections suggested in this framework would require lawmakers to create new policies or include them in current safety requirements or civil rights laws. Each principle includes three sections on principles, automated systems and practice by government entities.

In July, Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University stated that he is “a little skeptical that we should create a regulatory AI structure,” and instead proposed educating workers on how to set best practices for risk management, calling it an “educational institution approach.”

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Artificial Intelligence

Deepfakes Pose National Security Threat, Private Sector Tackles Issue

Content manipulation can include misinformation from authoritarian governments.

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Photo of Dana Roa of Adobe, Paul Lekas of Global Policy (left to right)

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2022 – Content manipulation techniques known as deepfakes are concerning policy makers and forcing the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the problem, a Center for Democracy and Technology event heard on Wednesday.

A deepfake is a technical method of generating synthetic media in which a person’s likeness is inserted into a photograph or video in such a way that creates the illusion that they were actually there. Policymakers are concerned that deepfakes could pose a threat to the country’s national security as the technology is being increasingly offered to the general population.

Deepfake concerns that policymakers have identified, said participants at Wednesday’s event, include misinformation from authoritarian governments, faked compromising and abusive images, and illegal profiting from faked celebrity content.

“We should not and cannot have our guard down in the cyberspace,” said Representative John Katko, R-NY, ranking member of House Committee on homeland security.

Adobe pitches technology to identify deepfakes

Software company Adobe released an open-source toolkit to counter deepfake concerns earlier this month, said Dana Rao, executive vice president of Adobe. The companies’ Content Credentials feature is a technology developed over three years that tracks changes made to images, videos, and audio recordings.

Content Credentials is now an opt-in feature in the company’s photo editing software Photoshop that it says will help establish credibility for creators by adding “robust, tamper-evident provenance data about how a piece of content was produced, edited, and published,” read the announcement.

Adobe’s Connect Authenticity Initiative project is dedicated to addressing problems establishing trust after the damage caused by deepfakes. “Once we stop believing in true things, I don’t know how we are going to be able to function in society,” said Rao. “We have to believe in something.”

As part of its initiative, Adobe is working with the public sector in supporting the Deepfake Task Force Act, which was introduced in August of 2021. If adopted, the bill would establish a National Deepfake and Digital task force comprised of members from the private sector, public sector, and academia to address disinformation.

For now, said Cailin Crockett, senior advisor to the White House Gender Policy Council, it is important to educate the public on the threat of disinformation.

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