The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a plan on Aug. 10 to prioritize Federal agency engagement in developing standards for artificial intelligence (AI), just before the deadline of an executive order issued in February that gave the agency 180 days to develop a plan.

The Federal government should “commit to deeper, consistent, long-term engagement” in AI development and deployment, according to the plan, which focuses on nine identified areas of focus for AI standards, including:

  • Concepts and terminology;
  • Data and knowledge;
  • Human interactions;
  • Metrics;
  • Networking;
  • Performance testing and reporting methodology;
  • Safety;
  • Risk management; and

“The federal government can help the U.S. maintain its leadership in AI by working closely with our experts in industry and academia, investing in research, and engaging with the international standards community,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan said. “This plan provides a path to ensure the federal government supports AI standards that are flexible and inclusive – and suited for a world of rapidly changing technologies and applications.”

The plan emphasizes specific tools for the advancement of AI adoption including standardized dataset formats; benchmarks and evaluations; and AI testbeds, among others.

A White House executive order, released on Feb. 11, directed NIST to drive AI developments, promote research and development, and procuring and deploying standards-based products and services, among other directives.

A May 30 workshop assisted plan developers in their search for “extensive public and private sector involvement.” That was followed by a draft plan, released July 2, which received comments from over 40 different organizations in industry, government, and academia.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.