Memo Drafted by Federal OMB On Innovation and Use of AI: Now Open for Comment

On January 13, 2020 a notice appeared in the Federal Register that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was requesting comments on a "draft Memorandum that provides guidance to all Federal agencies to inform the development of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches regarding technologies and industrial sectors that are empowered or enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and consider ways to reduce barriers to the development and adoption of AI technologies."

The draft Memorandum is available at​wp-content/​uploads/​2020/​01/​Draft-OMB-Memo-on-Regulation-of-AI-1-7-19.pdf. The comment period closes as of March 13, 2020.

Previously in 2019, the White House had issued Executive Order 13859, with the intent of encouraging research and deployment of artificial intelligence through the use of federal funding of infrastructure and development. The Order included, among others, the following objectives: 

  • the promotion of R&D investment in the field of artificial intelligence
  • the reduction of the barriers to use of artificial intelligence technologies in industry and academia while still protecting American technology, national security, civil liberties, and privacy;
  • Ensure development of technical standards to minimize vulnerability from malicious actors and reflect Federal priorities for innovation, public trust, and public confidence in systems that use AI technologies; 
  • training of a skilled workforce in computer science in order to be able to take full advantage of the competitive advantages that AI will bring.

Some media coverage, such as that in The Regulatory Review (University of Pennsylvania Law School) suggested that the White House policy was opening the door to "permissionless innovation" and questioned the wisdom of the policy. Coverage in MIT Technology Review here posited that, despite the current administration's aversion to governmental regulation, there was a need for clarity in understanding the bounds of acceptable practice in support of American business leadership and innovation.