Artificial intelligence (AI) could increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion by 2030, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The prevalence of AI in modern society is growing at a rapid pace–and the Federal government needs to keep up.

On April 24, the Brookings Institution released a deep dive report on AI. After examining the multitude of sectors AI is impacting, the report offers steps the Federal government should take to get the most out of AI while still protecting important human values.

Investing in AI

In the realm of AI, China is outspending the United States. If the U.S. government wants to be an AI leader, it needs to ramp up spending dramatically, the report says.

Well-funded research programs will put the United States back in a leadership position, but research funding isn’t enough, it says. The Feds need to make sure there is a trained talent pool that can lead research projects and eventual AI deployments amid an ongoing tech shortage that has been well documented. Heavily investing in STEM education from kindergarten to PhD will ensure that enough workers are there as research and deployments increase.

Careful Regulations

Research and regulation need to go hand-in-hand when it comes to AI. Researchers need access to data, but also need careful oversight and regulations to ensure citizens’ rights are protected, the report says.

The report further touches on the importance of careful regulation, but took issue with AI regulations in the European Union (EU) that may be overly strict and work to limit innovation.

“It makes more sense to think about the broad objectives desired in AI and enact policies that advance them, as opposed to governments trying to crack open the ‘black boxes’ and see exactly how specific algorithms operate,” the report says. “Regulating individual algorithms will limit innovation and make it difficult for companies to make use of artificial intelligence.”

To ensure that the right regulations are in place, Washington needs to get on the same page. Several members of Congress are trying to make that happens with the “Future of Artificial Intelligence Act.” The bill, designed to establish broad policy and legal principles for AI, proposes that the Secretary of Commerce create a Federal advisory committee on the development and implementation of AI.

Feds also need to work with their state and local counterparts. States and cities are frequently leading the way in emerging technology–both in deploying technologies and creating necessary regulations and oversight.

With AI capabilities evolving rapidly, regulations must be forward-looking. Creating a Federal council would allow multiple perspectives and skill sets to come together to create regulations that safeguard citizens while encouraging innovation.

Technology with a Human Touch

While there are many benefits to AI, there are also potential pitfalls. The report highlights potential issues with bias, discrimination, and malicious behavior.

Extending existing statutes governing discrimination in the physical economy to digital platforms could keep bias and discrimination at bay. However, there still has to be human oversight to ensure that algorithms haven’t gone astray.

Malicious behavior is a serious concern when it comes to AI. The report highlights a few potential types of malicious or illegal behavior, including cyberbullying, stock manipulation, and cyber threats.

Overall, the report suggests that all laws regarding human behavior should extend to AI. To combat issues such as cyberbullying, experts at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers suggest that AI technologies be programmed with consideration for widely accepted human norms and rules for behavior. To mitigate cyber risks, serious resources need to be committed to security, and malicious behavior should be heavily punished.

Government regulations on AI shouldn’t hamper innovation. But when it comes to malicious behavior, policymakers must make sure they’ve thought of every possible prevention scenario.

Regulating a new technology is never easy and getting AI right will be difficult. But, with trillions of dollars on the line, Feds need to make sure they give it their best shot.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.