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Unlocking US Government Data for Social Good

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By Derek Waxman (Global Policy Director, Artificial Intelligence), and 

      Chloe Autio (AI & Privacy Policy Analyst)


Earlier this year, the OPEN (Open, Public, Electronic, Necessary) Government Data Act was signed into law. Primarily, the act mandates that US government data be made publicly available in machine readable format and that government agencies must also appoint Chief Data Officers to oversee these processes over the next three years.

Intel was proud to join advocacy groups, other industry players, and academics in supporting this legislation. New availability of government data creates tremendous opportunities for innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across many industries – including healthcare, agriculture, and the environment. To focus on this effort and hear from lawmakers leading in AI on what they see as both the challenges and key benefits in this endeavor, on July 24th Intel jointly hosted an event with POLITICO in Washington, DC to explore the role of the federal government in facilitating the use of public data to advance AI technologies. The event also served as the US stop on Intel’s 2019 AI Policy World Tour.

The event was kicked off with a fireside chat conducted by Intel’s Trish Damkroger, Vice President, Data Center Group and General Manager of the Extreme Computing Organization.  She interviewed Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Senate AI Caucus, and had a thoughtful and engaging discussion on a wide range of AI and data topics.  They discussed how data availability, government investment, and policy has changed over the years, with Senator Heinrich (who has a Mechanical Engineering degree) explaining that lawmakers’ understanding of AI has become increasingly sophisticated in the past few years, which has correspondingly led to an influx of AI-related legislation. He also discussed the launch of the bipartisan Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, which he formed with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to answer questions about what needs to be accomplished at the federal level to, among other things, facilitate the broad use of data sets and publicly funded government data.

Heinrich-Damkroger.jpg Intel's Trish Damkroger and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) discussing AI, Open Data & Government

We then heard from Representative Jerry McNerney (D-CA), who currently serves as Co-Chair of the House Artificial Intelligence Caucus. Congressman McNerney illustrated that while the government has a tremendous amount of data, and a responsibility to make it available, it also needs to protect individual privacy. He highlighted the need for strict guidelines on how data is used when it is released from an individual’s control, and standards for the data itself, as it can produce bias depending upon how it is handled, shared and used. He also touched on the importance of earmarking funding for the research and development phase of AI, which he believes is a critical detail missing from the Administration’s Executive Order on AI, released back in February of this year.

McNerney.jpg Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) explains the importance of balancing open data with privacy protections for citizens

Hearing from two leading lawmakers in AI about the importance of data availability and government investment in AI was a wonderful way to kick off the day and was a great segue for Intel to continue to discuss the AI opportunity for governments – addressing large, complex societal challenges while spurring economic growth, addressing citizens’ concerns, and identifying needs for regulatory intervention – as well as Intel’s global AI policy vision: Innovative, Trusted and Inclusive AI.

  • Innovative– Governments should commit resources to the development, adoption and implementation of AI and foster international collaboration between industry, academia, government and civil society.

  • Trusted– Autonomous determinations made by algorithms may affect individuals and their private lives, but more automation should not translate to less protection. AI is powered by access to data, removing barriers to the responsible access to data, while also enhancing data protections, will help machine learning and deep learning reach their full potential.

  • Inclusive– Require accountability for ethical design and implementation of AI as well as a focus on developing the workforce that will develop AI, while creating the workforce that will use AI, and improving the social safety net to lessen the impact from employment disruption and displacement.

If you missed last week’s event, you can find an event recording and recap here.


The US stop on our AI Policy World Tour was a great success, and we are looking forward to the second half of the tour over the coming months with events being planned in Japan (Oct), India (Nov) and both France and the UK.