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  November 2nd, 2023 | Written by

US Department of Commerce Establishes U.S. Artificial Intelligence Safety Institute to Lead AI Safety Efforts

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In a significant development, the Biden-Harris Administration has unveiled plans for the establishment of the U.S. Artificial Intelligence Safety Institute (USAISI) within the U.S. Department of Commerce, specifically under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This institute will assume a leading role in the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and trustworthiness of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, with a particular focus on evaluating the most advanced AI models. This initiative comes in response to the historic executive order signed by President Biden earlier this week.

USAISI’s primary mission is to foster the development of standards concerning the safety, security, and testing of AI models. Moreover, it will play a pivotal role in creating standards for authenticating AI-generated content and provide dedicated testing environments to enable researchers to assess emerging AI risks and address known impacts. NIST will spearhead the efforts of USAISI, collaborating with external experts, including those from academia, industry, government, and civil society, to advance the cause of AI safety. Additionally, USAISI will engage with similar institutes in allied and partner nations, such as the UK’s AI Safety Institute, to synchronize and coordinate their work in this critical field.

Today’s announcement coincides with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo’s participation in the AI Safety Summit 2023 in the UK, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, underscoring the administration’s commitment to international collaboration in advancing AI safety.

Speaking about this initiative, Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized, “Through the establishment of the U.S. AI Safety Institute, we at the Department of Commerce will build on NIST’s long history of developing standards to inform domestic and international technological progress for the common good. As President Biden takes swift action to ensure the U.S. is a global leader on innovative, safe, and responsible AI, the Department of Commerce is eager to play its part. Together, in coordination with federal agencies across government and in lockstep with our international partners and allies, we will work to fulfill the President’s vision to manage the risks and harness the benefits of AI.”

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio added, “I am thrilled that NIST is taking on this critical role for the United States that will expand on our wide-ranging efforts in AI. The U.S. AI Safety Institute will harness talent and expertise from NIST and the broader AI community to build the foundation for trustworthy AI systems. It will bring industry, civil society, and government agencies together to work on managing the risks of AI systems and to build guidelines, tools, and test environments for AI safety and trust.”

This move follows Secretary Raimondo’s active involvement in securing voluntary commitments on AI safety and security from leading American companies back in July. She has been instrumental in shaping the G-7 Principles and Code of Conduct, which were also announced recently, and co-authored an op-ed in July with Secretary Blinken for the Financial Times, highlighting the significance of AI in today’s world.