Legislation to improve federal workforce understanding of AI passes Senate

Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in August 2021. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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A bipartisan bill to improve federal employees’ understanding of the threats and opportunities presented by artificial intelligence passed the Senate on Saturday.

The Artificial Intelligence Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act was approved by unanimous consent. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are the sponsors. It’s unclear when the House might act on the bill.

If enacted, the bill will require the director of the Office of Management and Budget to provide and regularly update an AI training program for federal employees who manage and purchase the technology.

The training also is intended to raise awareness of how the U.S. can remain competitive as other countries such as China forge ahead with the technology.

“In order to use artificial intelligence properly and in a way that ensures our nation can compete with our foreign adversaries – federal workers need to understand the technical and ethical implications of these technologies for the safety, security, and freedoms of Americans,” Peters said.

Portman added: “This important bill will help our government better understand artificial intelligence and ensure we are using it in a manner that is consistent with American values and our democracy.”

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has raised the need to train the federal workforce on AI, especially those who procure and manage these technologies. Experts remain concerned that if used improperly, the technology could harm U.S. citizens and compromise national security.

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artificial intelligence (AI), National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Rob Portman, Sen. Gary Peters
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