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Sharon Hays, Chief Technology Officer at LMI, discusses AI priorities, chief artificial intelligence officers at agencies, AI regulation and tools that can help the administration in this area

The Trump administration launched the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office in mid-January, and it will be up to the Biden administration to carry out widespread coordination of AI efforts across government. Sharon Hays, former Associate Director and Deputy Director for Science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, joined “Government Matters” to discuss the Biden administration’s approach to artificial intelligence.

“They’re going to have to focus on the policy issues,” Hays said. “There’s some really sticky issues around AI.”

The Defense Innovation Board developed a list of principles for ethics in AI under the Trump administration that the new Defense Department team plans to incorporate into systems engineering.

Hays said many of the AI coordination efforts from the Trump administration will stick around. She said the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has done important work in coordinating AI efforts across the Defense Department.

“AI is only as good as the algorithms and the data that feed those algorithms,” she said. “If your data is siloed across different parts of an agency, you’re not going to be able to take full advantage of the technology.”

Hays said she expects to see the Biden administration utilize the National AI Initiative Office to coordinate AI efforts across the government in the way the JAIC has coordinated them across DoD.

“There’s some strong signs that point to more research and development funding going particularly to non-defense agencies such as National Science Foundation [and] National Institute for Standards and Technology,” Hays said. “I expect to see more coordination among agencies.”

Hays said the Biden administration can leverage tools in place for coordination, and that the raising of the Chief of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to a Cabinet-level role will help in these efforts.

“I think the main things [the Biden administration is] going to need to address are continuing implementation … focus on creating what’s next, the research and development that’s going to drive AI into the future through agencies like the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and others, and then wrangle with the policy issues. I think the time has come. I think that’s actually something they’re going to have to grapple with, and they’re ready to.”

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