The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) published a comprehensive framework on responsible usage of artificial intelligence (AI) to help Federal officials and contractors align technology and AI programs with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Ethical Principles for AI.


To accelerate the adoption of commercial technology within the DoD, the DIU launched a strategic initiative in March 2020 to integrate the DoD’s Ethical Principles for AI into its commercial prototyping and acquisition programs, resulting in the Responsible AI (RAI) Guidelines.


“With increased attention on the ethical aspects of developing and deploying AI systems, it became incumbent upon DIU to provide guidance on how the DoD’s Ethical Principles for AI could effectively and efficiently be put into practice in new and ongoing DIU projects,” a report accompanying the RAI guideline noted.


The guideline offers users step-by-step direction to help inform how officials apply the measures to the technologies they develop or purchase. The RAI Guidelines are framed within three phases that underpin the making of an AI system: planning, development, and deployment.


During phase one, planning, Federal officials and contractors are asked to conceptualize and design an AI system to solve a given problem. In phase two, development, users engage in an iterative process of writing and evaluating the computer code that comprises that system. And finally, in phase three, deployment, Federal officials and contractors use that AI system to solve the problem in practice.


In each phase, users are given visual workflows and worksheets with questions and possible considerations in the use of AI-enabled technology and all who might be harmed by it and how.


“DIU is actively deploying the RAI guidelines on a range of projects that cover applications including predictive health, underwater autonomy, predictive maintenance, and supply chain analysis,” officials noted in the report.


In the report, officials also emphasized that “[RAI Guidelines] is not intended to be a final product” and actively seek input to incorporate into routine updates.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.