WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) launched public engagement with its review of openness in artificial intelligence models at an event hosted by the Center for Democracy & Technology.
President Biden’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence directs NTIA to review the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence models openness and develop policy recommendations to maximize those benefits while mitigating the risks.
“Responsible AI innovation will deliver enormous benefits to people,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “But we will only realize the promise of AI if we also address the serious risks it raises. This project will seek policies that promote both safety and allow for broad access to AI tools.”
AI tools that are “open” such that their key components, such as their model weights, are available and therefore replicable or manipulable, broaden AI’s availability to small companies, nonprofits, and individuals. This increases access to this technology's benefits, but also increases the possible sources of AI risk.
The dual-use foundation models with widely available model weights that the EO directs NTIA to investigate are highly capable models that are generally useful for many purposes. For example, such a model might be the driver behind a chatbot, but also be used to write poems, computer code, or recipes.
Model weights govern how AI algorithms evaluate data by providing instructions as to which factors matter a great deal and which matter less or not at all. Machine language algorithms assess large volumes of data and learn – or are taught – which relative weightings of the many data points available will lead to the most accurate determinations. If the model weights are widely available, the model itself can become easily replicable or potentially manipulable.
To meet the requirements of the Executive Order, NTIA will review:
- The risks of openness associated with actors removing safeguards or tweaking the models that AI systems rely on;
- The benefits to competition, AI innovation, and research of the openness of AI models and systems; and
- Potential regulatory mechanisms to manage the risks and maximize the benefits of the openness AI models and systems.
NTIA intends to issue a formal Request for Comment in early 2024 exploring these topics.
About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.