Friday, May 31, 2024

Artificial Intelligence: Impact in the Real World. May 29, 2024






MAY 29, 2024






Welcome to The Wrap for Wednesday, May 29!






From the newsroom at MeriTalk, it’s the quickest read in Federal tech news. Here’s what you need to know today:






AI Impact in the ‘Real World’

The Biden administration’s AI executive order has the Federal government exploring many dozens of avenues on how to use AI technology safely and responsibly, but today’s effort kicked off by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may be the one that ends up hitting the nail most squarely on the head. The project is called Assessing Risks and Impacts of AI (ARIA 0.1), and its goal is to assess the societal risks and impacts of large language model generative AI systems in the real world. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo put it this way: “In order to fully understand the impacts AI is having and will have on our society, we need to test how AI functions in realistic scenarios – and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this program.” ARIA 0.1 aims to address gaps in societal impact assessments by expanding the scope of study to include people, and how they adapt to AI technology in “quasi-real world conditions,” NIST wrote in the ARIA pilot plan. “Current approaches do not adequately cover AI’s systemic impacts or consider how people interact with AI technology and act upon AI generated information. This isolation from real world contexts makes it difficult to anticipate and estimate real world failures.” Please do click through to the whole story for more about the first three scenarios under study: TV Spoilers, Meal Planner, and Pathfinder.

VA’s Ambient Scribe

Further on the does-AI-help-the-humans front, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials explained today that they are piloting AI tools to help reduce administrative burden and burnout among the agency’s employees and physicians, but also talked about how to gauge the impact of the technology on not only VA employees, but crucially on veterans who also have to trust the process. Dr. Kaeli Yuen, VA’s AI product lead within the VA Office of Information and Technology’s (OIT) Office of the Chief Technology Officer, talked about the “ambient scribe” pilot that is using AI to cut down on the time that physicians and staff have to spend documenting patient interactions that then become part of electronic health records. While the pilot is winning kudos from physicians and staff, Dr. Yuen also noted that many veterans are still “very skeptical” of this pilot and having their doctor’s visit recorded. Based on that feedback, she said the VA is working to “find the balance between maintaining a level of privacy and security that veterans expect, and providing them with the ease of experience.”

Cyber Workforce Diversity

Growing the diversity of the U.S. cybersecurity workforce is at the center of the target of legislation introduced by two Democratic House members who want to fund a $20 million per year program within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to draw the future workforce from many places where it is now underrepresented. The Diverse Cybersecurity Workforce Act introduced by Reps. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., and Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, on May 21 would point CISA toward promoting the cybersecurity field among disadvantaged communities, older individuals, people with disabilities, and those from nontraditional educational paths. The lawmakers stressed the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals – evidenced by more than 400,000 unfilled positions in the U.S. - and they underscored the lack of diversity in the field, quoting figures that say 24 percent of the U.S. cyber workforce is made up of women, with Black people coming in at nine percent, Hispanic people at four percent, and Native Americans at one percent. The bill has drawn 30 cosponsors and a trip to the House Homeland Security Committee for consideration.

AI and Quantum Education

Elsewhere among sectors where good tech help is hard to find, a new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate seeks to boost education on artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum science across the nation by authorizing the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award scholarships for higher education students. The NSF AI Education Act of 2024  also tasks the agency with AI education more broadly, requiring NSF to create an AI education and training framework for more underrepresented populations such as women and rural residents. The bill – introduced by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., on May 23 – calls on NSF to leverage financial support from the private sector to support scholarships and fellowships. “The emerging tech jobs of tomorrow are here today,” Sen. Cantwell said in a statement. “Demand for AI expertise is already high and will continue to grow,” she said. “This bill will open doors to AI for students at all levels, and upskill our workforce to drive American tech innovation, entrepreneurship and progress in solving the toughest global challenges,” the senator said.



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