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CMU dean to help launch new federal artificial intelligence initiative

Ramayya Krishnan is the dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.
Tim Kaulen
Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University
Ramayya Krishnan is the dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.

A new panel of experts has been assigned to advise President Joe Biden on artificial intelligence. Among them is Carnegie Mellon University Dean Ramayya Krishnan.

The National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee is composed of 27 experts in academia, labor, industry and civil society. They will counsel the president on topics including the current state of the country's AI competitiveness, the state of science around AI, and AI workforce issues.

Ramayya Krishnan is the dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. He also serves as faculty director of the Block Center for Technology and Society, which earlier this month launched a responsible AI initiative. CMU has been a leader in AI research and development since the technology was first invented.

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“I’m excited, and I’m proud to represent the region and CMU in this effort,” Krishnan said. “And contribute my expertise to what I think is a really important public policy issue.”

The committee members were nominated by the public as expert leaders across a wide range of AI-relevant disciplines. Other advisors include leaders from Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Salesforce, the AFL-CIO, IBM Corporation and the Markle Foundation. Committee members will serve three-year terms but could serve an additional term at the discretion of the secretary of commerce.

The committee is a requirement of the National AI Initiative Act of 2020. Members will help the U.S. stay competitive in new AI development, research and uses according to Don Graves, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

“Artificial intelligence presents a new frontier for enhancing our economic and national security, as well as our way of life. Moreover, responsible AI development is instrumental to our strategic competition with China,” said Graves. “At the same time, we must remain steadfast in mitigating the risks associated with this emerging technology, and others, while ensuring that all Americans can benefit.”

Among the key priorities of the committee will be thinking about new innovations that keep the U.S. at the forefront of developing AI technology and implementing it in new ways.

Krishnan argues transparency and responsible use of the technology will be important to get more sectors of the economy up to speed on the advantages of using AI in the workforce. “That’s going to be a key driver of how AI is actually going to be a huge competitive advantage for us as a nation,” he said.

The group will think of ways to provide new employment opportunities in artificial intelligence as well as how to better educate the public about the benefits of the technology.

“There’s this huge opportunity for us,” Krishnan said. “To allow for people to acquire the skills that would allow for pathways to economic prosperity.”

A smaller subcommittee will soon be appointed to consider matters related to AI in law enforcement, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The smaller group will advise the president on topics such as bias, data security, legal standards and how to adopt AI for security or law enforcement. The group will focus on ensuring “that AI use is consistent with privacy rights, civil rights and civil liberties, and disability rights.”

"AI is already transforming the world as we know it," said Alondra Nelson, the head of the Office of Science and Technology and deputy assistant to the president at CMU. "The expertise of the NAIAC will be critical in helping to ensure the United States leads the world in the ethical development and adoption of AI, provides inclusive employment and education opportunities for the American public, and protects civil rights and civil liberties in our digital age."

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.