Public Knowledge Joins More Than 80 Groups Urging Congress To Support NIST Funding Request for Responsible AI Innovation

The joint advocacy effort calls for the establishment of an effective AI governance framework through NIST.

Today, Public Knowledge joined more than 80 industry, civil society, nonprofit, university, trade association, and research laboratory groups in a letter urging Congress to prioritize funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology fiscal year 2025 budget request. The letter encourages investment in NIST’s effort to advance AI research, standards, and testing, including through the agency’s recently established U.S. AI Safety Institute.

The joint advocacy effort, backed by industry, academia, and groups from across the AI policy spectrum, calls for the establishment of an effective AI governance framework through NIST, including technical standards, test methods, and objective evaluation techniques for the emerging technology. In addition to asking congressional leaders to meet the agency’s $48 million request for its Scientific and Technical Research Services account, the groups also expressed concern over cuts in the most recent federal budget, which could jeopardize sustainable and responsible AI development in the U.S.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“We write to urge you to prioritize funding for the U.S. Department of Commerce initiatives to advance responsible innovation of artificial intelligence systems in the upcoming fiscal year. 

“For over a century, NIST has served as a trusted and impartial leader in contributing to the development of technical standards and promoting innovation across a range of American industries. Its world-renowned expertise in measurement science and cutting-edge technology make it well-suited to lead the  federal government’s efforts to address the complex challenges presented by AI systems. However, due to years of funding shortfalls, many NIST facilities are in disrepair, forcing researchers to employ makeshift solutions and workarounds that undermine productivity.

“By investing in NIST’s unique scientific expertise to identify techniques to measure the capabilities, limitations, and potential risks posed by AI systems, we can build public trust in AI to foster continued innovation while safeguarding the public from harm. NIST is uniquely qualified to contribute to the development of well defined technical standards, test methods, and objective evaluation techniques, which are prerequisites for any effective AI governance framework, especially as AI systems rapidly increase in scale and complexity.

“As cutting-edge AI systems rapidly evolve, ensuring NIST has the resources it needs to drive responsible AI innovation is essential to maintain America’s technological leadership and safeguard our future.”

The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, President and CEO of Public Knowledge:

“NIST is a critical forum for technically informed, multi-stakeholder development of policies and guidelines. As we look for ways to establish American leadership in innovative, trustworthy, and responsible AI development and deployment, we need forums like NIST to be more well-supported – not operating with slashed budgets.”

You may view the letter to the U.S. Senate as well as the U.S. House of Representatives for more information.

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