The National Security Commission for Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) approved 71 draft recommendations related to artificial intelligence today that offer suggestions for changes across the Federal government.

The commission’s recommendations, interim report, and meeting to approve the draft documents all focused on six “Lines of Effort” – all of which aim to support the U.S. in setting the country’s course to stay ahead in the international competition on AI. Those lines of effort are:

  • Strengthening the Triangular Alliance for AI Research and Development;
  • Applying AI for National Security Missions;
  • Training and Recruiting AI Talent;
  • Protecting and Building Upon U.S. Technology Advantages, and;
  • Marshalling Global AI Cooperation.

The commission also considered recommendations on combatting malign information, but opted to hold those recommendations for further discussion.

“The totality of the recommendations illustrates a key point: Laying out a vision is not enough. A winning strategy demands major muscle movements in and across departments and agencies, and significant executive and legislative action,” the commission wrote in its report.

This update mirrors the same Lines of Effort used in the commission’s second quarter report, and is the second interim report by the NSCAI, following its initial report in 2019.

Among the recommendations, the NSCAI called for some major changes in Federal structures, some of which include:

  • Optimizing the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to be more selective with awards that match modernization priorities;
  • Giving more responsibilities, power, and funds to the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering;
  • Designating the Director of S&T at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as CTO within the intelligence community (IC), and fostering better coordination and communication about AI efforts through the National Intelligence Strategy;
  • Creating an AI occupational series within civilian agencies;
  • Establishing a unit at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to focus on supply chain issues, especially around microelectronics, and;
  • Empowering a single entity in the White House to develop a Comprehensive Technology Strategy, and naming a White House technology advisor.

While the NSCAI is an independent advisory committee without implementation power that advises both Congress and the White House, the committee members highlighted the need for a sense of urgency and unity in implementation.

“My own opinion … is that regardless what happens in the election, the next administration should immediately implement the [NSCAI’s] nonpartisan recommendations that we approve,” said Eric Schmidt – chair of the commission and former Google CEO and chairman from 2001 to 2011 – during an October 8 meeting.

The final report of the NSCAI is set to come out in March 2021.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.