Heinrich, Portman Announce Bipartisan Artificial Intelligence Bills To Boost AI-Ready National Security Personnel, Increase Governmental Transparency

The co-founders of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus are building off of the momentum from the groundbreaking AI provisions secured in the FY21 NDAA

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the co-founders of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, are announcing two bipartisan pieces of legislation to strengthen the U.S. government’s artificial intelligence (AI) readiness, support long-term investments in AI ethics and safety research, as well as increase governmental AI transparency.

Senators Heinrich and Portman will be introducing the bipartisan Artificial Intelligence Capabilities and Transparency (AICT) Act. The AICT Act would implement recommendations of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s (NSCAI) final report. Congress established the NSCAI through the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in order to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development and improve the government’s use of AI and related technology.

“Artificial intelligence presents both opportunities and challenges for our nation’s security and we need to be prepared for both," said Heinrich. "Senator Portman and I have worked together to pass several bipartisan solutions that put into place the right policy and people in these emerging technologies. Now, it’s time to build off of that momentum and strengthen the federal government’s AI capabilities while also increasing the public’s trust in this technology. By transparently boosting our federal digital workforce and talent recruitment, we send a clear signal to the world – and our adversaries – that we are prepared to take AI head on.” 

“When Congress created the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence it was with the expectation that the Commission provide Congress will the ideas to keep the United States as the world’s AI leader. I am pleased to say that the Commission has delivered,” said Portman. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass these bills so that we can continue to implement the good ideas that the Commission has spent so long developing. Ensuring that AI is trustworthy and transparent, and that our warfighters are skilled in the nuances of emerging technology are common sense priorities.”

Senators Heinrich and Portman have a track record of leading successful bipartisan efforts on AI including the most significant advancements for AI ever secured in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

The AICT Act will increase the federal government’s AI capabilities by improving talent recruitment and enabling agencies to adopt new AI technology more quickly while providing increased transparency and accountability for the government’s AI systems.

The legislation provides new authority and resources to the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), Intelligence Community (IC), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in order to ensure the federal government is positioned to make the best use of rapidly evolving AI capabilities.

Specifically, the Artificial Intelligence Capabilities and Transparency Act:

  • Establishes a Chief Digital Recruiting Officer within DOD, DOE, and the IC to identify digital talent needs and actively recruit personnel from the private sector, universities and other sources;
  • Establishes a pilot AI development and prototyping fund of $50M within the Department of Defense aimed at developing and transitioning exceptionally promising AI-enabled technologies that meet the military’s operational needs;
  • Develops a resourcing plan for the DOD to enable development, testing, fielding, and continuous update of AI-powered applications at speed and scale for both headquarters and fielded units;
  • Expresses the Sense of Congress that the National Science Foundation should establish focus areas in AI safety and AI ethics as part of the establishment of new, federally funded National Artificial Intelligence Institutes over the coming year; and
  • Requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish an accreditation assessment to certify an organization’s ability to review AI systems used by the DOD, DOE, the IC and the FBI and identify privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties effects on United States persons.

Read the full text of the AICT Act by clicking here.

Senators Heinrich and Portman are also introducing Artificial Intelligence for the Military (AIM) Act, legislation to operationalize additional recommendations made by the NSCAI that relate to the military’s technology workforce. 

Specifically, the bill improves education and training on AI and emerging technologies topics for junior officers and Department of Defense leadership so that the military services can use AI to their benefit. 

This bill builds on legislation that Senators Portman and Heinrich successfully passed in the two previous NDAA’s, the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA) AI for the Armed Forces Act, the National AI Research Resource Task Force, andthe Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act.

Read the full text of AIM Act by clicking here.