Brookings Institution President John Allen and Vice President and Director of Governance Studies Darrell West are calling for AI policies such as instituting impact statements and reinstating the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) as the government prepares for the future of AI.

“We’ve got to shorten the time frame between the technology and the regulatory body that both governs it but also provides for its continuous innovation,” Allen said at an August 10 Brookings Institution event.

Specifically, West suggested that the Federal government should reinstate OTA, the office providing members of Congress with objective technology analysis that was decommissioned in the 1990s. He also said that there should be regulated “AI impact statements.” In the same vein as environmental impact statements, the AI statements would require publicly financed AI projects to review how the tech would impact populations and what the organization can do to mitigate those impacts.

“The bias question, the lack of equity in terms of digital access to telemedicine, to online learning, to other new applications— those are important considerations,” West said. “There’s several policy areas where if we clarify the situation and create some more guardrails, it’s going to improve our ability to innovate,” he added.

Allen continued, “AI has to be understandable. AI has to be transparent. AI has to be safe. AI has to be subject to regulation. It can’t be the other way around.”

The scholars also analyzed the deployment of AI in defense and military strategies. Allen explained that the rate of change of technology is already so fast, certain strategies must be in place to ensure effective government management.

“We have to have processes for the selection of our leaders, capacity to educate them, to train them, to give them the command experience so that the speed of technology and the technology that we adapt can be understandable and can be employed in a constructive way in the battlespace,” he said.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.