Washington Moves To Make Sensitive Private Data Available For “Minority Report”-Style AI Research

WSJ reports that the Biden Administration is launching an initiative Thursday aiming at making sensitive data like this much more easily accessible to researchers. In fact, the new portal envisioned by the administration would also research create an opportunity to improve the ability of US scientists to review the data.

“This is a moment that is calling us to be strengthening our speed and scale” when it comes to advances in AI technology, said National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan: “It is also calling us to make sure that innovation is everywhere,” they told WSJ.

America is racing against China to dominate the race for AI, and the government is desperately searching for anything that might give the US an edge. Now, the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force, a group of 12 members from academia, government, and industry, is reportedly drafting a strategy for potentially giving researchers access to stores of data about Americans, from demographics to health and driving habits.

The task force was first authorized by Congress last year as part of a sweeping law designed to revamp the governments

One member of the task force told WSJ that researchers need access to this data in order to “investigate a lot of their really great ideas in AI.”

Lynne Parker, assistant director of artificial intelligence at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the task force announced Thursday would aim to give Congress a road map for creating a common research infrastructure the government could offer to outsiders.

“In order to investigate a lot of their really great ideas in AI, they need access to powerful computing infrastructure and they need access to data,” she said. Many researchers, particularly in academia, “simply don’t have access to these computational resources and data, and this is hampering innovation.”

One example: The Transportation Department has access to a set of data gathered from vehicle sensors about how people drive, said Erwin Gianchandani, senior adviser at the National Science Foundation and co-chair of the new AI task force.

“Because you have very sensitive data about individuals, there are challenges in being able to make that data available to the broader research community,” he said. On the other hand, if researchers could get access, they could develop innovations designed to make driving safer.

WSJ mentioned that data gathered from police vehicle sensors could be among the data shared, along with “sensitive data” gleaned from medical records and other data sets. The task force is due to issue reports on its research in May and November of next year.  – READ MORE

Responses

  1. The Committee on Artificial Intelligence (under the auspices of the NSC) came out with a report just before Trump came in with regard to the AI race with China.  The upshot of the report was that China had the edge over us, because they were implementing their technology on their citizens, while we had er, um,  the Consititution… then COVID hit, and it looks like we are in the running again.  I tried to find that report again, but never did.