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AI in the News: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Issues Draft Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Applications


Guidance Document Encourages Use of Voluntary Standards, Conformity Assessment Activities

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released a first-of-its-kind guideline memo to support federal agency regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Among the list of guidelines, the draft document highlights direction for the development of voluntary consensus standards that concern AI applications. It also provides guidance for agency participation in the development and use of voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment activities. The public will have 60 days to comment on the draft guidance.

Released January 7, 2020, "Guidance for Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Applications," encourages federal agencies to provide opportunities for public participation in the AI rulemaking process. Agencies are also encouraged to inform the public and promote awareness and widespread availability of standards and the creation of other informative documents. On page 7, the document notes that agencies should give a preference to voluntary standards and should consider relying on private-sector conformity assessment programs and activities, before proposing either regulations or compliance programs.

In addition, the document notes, "To promote innovation, use, and adoption of AI applications, standards could address many technical aspects, such as AI performance, measurement, safety, security, privacy, interoperability, robustness, trustworthiness, and governance. Moreover, Federal engagement with the private sector on the development of voluntary consensus standards will help agencies develop expertise in AI and identify practical standards for use in regulation."

The guidelines are the latest development that support the February 2019 Executive Order (EO) on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence. Among other priorities, the EO aims to "Ensure that technical standards . . . reflect Federal priorities for innovation, public trust, and public confidence in systems that use AI technologies . . . and develop international standards to promote and protect those priorities."

ANSI, which helps to bridge standards developers and the governmental agencies that create legislation affecting the standards community, has supported AI development through coordinated feedback from its standardization members. Last year, ANSI submitted a response on behalf of its members to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) request for information seeking comment on the current state, plans, challenges, and opportunities related to AI technical standards, as well as priority areas for federal involvement in AI standards-related activities, pursuant to the EO.

See related articles:

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NIST Releases Plan for Federal Engagement to Develop Technical Standards and Tools in AI


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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