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Ben Huebner, Chief of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency at ODNI, explains how agencies across the intelligence community collaborated to put together principles for the ethical use of artificial intelligence

The intelligence community has new principles for ethical artificial intelligence that reflect the authorities and missions of each of the 17 agencies in the IC, according to Federal News Network. Ben Huebner, Chief of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), discussed the process of developing these principles.

The decision to rethink the principles was driven by the rapidly advancing technology of artificial intelligence. “There was something new here,” Huebner said. “We teach our folks from literally day one that they need to use all of their resources in an ethical way, but we saw a new need with respect to artificial intelligence.”

The intelligence community built on the work of the Department of Defense in developing the new principles, Huebner explained, but creating a common document for all of the organizations required a somewhat different process. The agencies in the IC share a common mission but span many departments with different sets of authorities.

The process involved collaboration between data scientists, lawyers, private and civil liberties officers and others to come up with the guidance. Some of the areas that the principles apply to include voice-to-text translation and image recognition.

Huebner said that the intelligence community created high-level principles of AI ethics as well as an AI framework. The principles were “the easy part,” Huebner said, because “no one had a disagreement that we would be putting out objective intelligence.” The second document, the AI framework, delves into how to achieve that using artificial intelligence technology. While the principles will likely remain stable over time, the ethical framework will be updated regularly as technology evolves.

The principles and framework are intended to be practical. “It’s not just a piece of paper – it is something that helps us make the decisions that we need to make to protect the nation,” Huebner stated.

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