Event Recap: Building Responsible U.S. Leadership in AI

SIIA hosted a public event on Monday, March 28 from 2:00 – 3:30 pm ET, to spotlight women leadership in AI policy. The event featured government officials and industry experts to discuss responsible AI, pending legislation, and US/EU harmonization. The event keynote was Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. We hosted a fireside chat with Sorelle Friedler of the White House OSTP and heard remarks from Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Administration Committee. Following that, we hosted a true expert panel that included Elham Tabassi, Chief of Staff, IT Lab, NIST; Alice Hau, Tech Fellow, US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Julie Babayan, Senior Manager for Govt Relations and Public Policy, Adobe. The moderator was Issie Lapowsky, Chief Correspondent with Protocol. Politico featured the event as the top story in Morning Tech, which can be viewed here.

Highlights from the event include:

  • SIIA President Jeff Joseph introduced the event, as the second in the Tech & series in 2022. He spoke to SIIA’s support for consumer data privacy protections that enable continued innovation and responsible use of emerging technologies such as AI. He noted that the U.S. government should make this a priority in its foreign policy, or else we are in danger of ceding the regulatory playing field to those who don’t share our democratic values and support for a free and open internet. He also noted SIIA’s enthusiasm for Friday’s announcement on an agreement in principle with the EU on data privacy and data transfers, which is a good first step. Jeff underscored SIIA’s celebration of women’s history month, focused on highlighting leaders who are pushing the envelope on AI policy and are advancing opportunities to represent women in the fields of AI and STEM.
  • Keynote for the event was Chair Schakowsky, who discussed the importance of underlying data and algorithmic design for technology development and design. She focused on the need for the U.S. to advance federal privacy legislation as a compelling starting point in improving algorithmic bias, and as an important leveling of the playing field when it comes to the United States keeping an innovative position in the geopolitical race. We have to protect the privacy of consumer data which feeds into AI algorithms, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the head of the House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee and a key player in the long-running (and long-stalled) conversation around comprehensive privacy legislation.
  • Next, the event featured a fireside chat between SIIA’s Senior Director for Data Policy, Dr. Divya Sridhar and Sorelle Friedler, Assistant Director for Data and Democracy at the White House Office of Science and Tech Policy. Sorelle shared about her background in machine learning, work as a technologist, and how it has shaped her career in academia and policymaking. She discussed the OSTP’s plans and opportunities for the U.S. to lead by building a rights-preserving approach to AI that would support marginalized communities with better tech and data design. She also touched on the future of funding for science and tech, which will require additional investments in computer science and opportunities to support the youth with trajectories in computer science, coding, AI, and much more.
  • In her remarks, Rep. Lofgren, Chair of the House Administration Committee, noted the importance of balancing rapid AI development with strong consumer privacy protections and shared more about her proposal, the Online Privacy Act.It’s very important that we get the details right, Lofgren said at the SIIA event on Monday. Privacy rules set by Congress in the next few years, she said, “could set the stage for responsible data collection and AI for decades to come.”
  • During the moderated panel at the event, public and private sector experts discussed a range of topics, including: the NIST framework for responsible AI use and its recent report on reducing bias in AI; Congress’ plans with the National AI Initiative and proposals like the Algorithmic Accountability Act; use of AI by government and industry; and how industry players like Adobe have made strides of progress toward reducing AI bias through impact assessments and a review board strictly to support the industry process. In closing, the group touched on the need for more diverse representation of women and technologists in government and the positive efforts that are underway to bolster the STEM pipeline in Congress.

A recording of the event can be viewed on the SIIA YouTube Channel, here.

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