Technocrat | December 7, 2018: Al Is Here to Stay

What’s New This Week:

AI Is Here to Stay

Last week the nation bid farewell to the 41st U.S. president, George H.W. Bush, who left a legacy beyond his presidency. During his time in the White House, Bush was responsible for several IT reforms by which the government still operates. In a time before iPhones and social media, his leadership played an integral part in the transition from analog to digital technologies.

Fast-forward 25 years: The current administration wants to maintain America’s competitive edge by focusing on advanced technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. The White House is in the process of updating an AI research and development strategy first published under the Obama administration. Lynn Parker, assistant director of AI at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, hinted that the next iteration, planned for spring 2019, will reflect continuity on the part of the Trump administration.

BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains more about the upcoming AI strategy and where it may depart from its predecessor in this week’s exclusive story.

Parker recently spoke at an event centered on the release of a report from the Center for Data Innovation, which advocates a comprehensive AI national strategy. The report suggests the U.S. is behind other countries—including Canada, China, France, and Japan—in adopting such a plan. The roughly 50-page document has recommendations for the Trump administration and leaders in Congress to help the U.S. catch up.

Fears are growing that government could use AI to monitor certain populations or discriminate against different groups. That’s why AI should be regulated in areas like criminal justice and healthcare, argues one research group, AI Now Institute, in its own newly released report.

The invasion of privacy is a touchy subject, and Facebook is a prime example of what happens when companies (and governments) misuse technology. Just last week the British parliament released documents that show senior Facebook executives reportedly blocked competitors from accessing the company’s user data to maintain dominance in the digital space. The news is alarming, but not surprising.

If you’re hungry for more, keep reading.

Get Smart

“Hopefully in early spring you’ll be seeing an updated version of that R&D strategic plan, as well as our process we’ll be using at the federal level for tracking the progress of those investments.”

—Lynn Parker, assistant director of AI at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, on the upcoming release of a national strategy for artificial intelligence

Read more in this week’s exclusive from Bloomberg Government.

In the Cloud

DOD Moves Fast on Back-Office Cloud Contract

The Defense Department is on a fast track to award its $8 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solution contract, designed to replace legacy applications with cloud-based email and other services. The agency plans to issue a draft quote request in January. Read more.

DISA Needs More Time for Cloud-Based System Proposals

The Defense Information Systems Agency is extending the deadline for vendors to submit white papers proposing a cloud-based system that allows employees to access the internet without the public web. The system would handle more than 3 million users. Read more.

Strategy & Leadership

DOT CIO Leaving After Year-Long Stint

Vicki Hildebrand is moving on after a brief tenure as CIO of the Department of Transportation. Hildebrand, who focused on reshaping how the agency uses technology, will leave the job in the next few weeks. Her replacement hasn’t yet been named. Read more.

CIA’s Edwards Wants Data-Savvy Workforce

Data is everything for the Central Intelligence Agency, which is why CIO John Edwards says it’s important to build teams dedicated to “deepening the skills of the digital workforce.” The efforts are part of the agency’s Directorate of Digital Innovation, he said. Read more.

Next Tech

HHS Close to Rolling Out Blockchain Acquisition Solution

The Department of Health and Human Services is on a mission to have the first blockchain-based program in the federal government with an authority to operate. The program, HHS Accelerate, also uses machine learning and artificial intelligence. Read more.

Secret Service Tests Facial Recognition at White House

The Secret Service is turning to facial recognition technology to help identify individuals who enter the White House. The pilot program, which will use camera streams from the sidewalk and street outside the building, is already raising privacy concerns. Read more.

Eye on Security

DHS Looks to Build Cyberthreat Warning Network

Homeland Security wants to develop software that helps small and mid-sized businesses connect with each other and identify hacking attempts. It would operate like a social network that businesses can use to exchange knowledge about potential cyberattacks. Read more.

TSA Introduces Cybersecurity Road Map

The Transportation Security Administration released a road map that will guide its cybersecurity policy for the next five years. TSA administrator David Pekoske said the plan “is a first” for the agency and aligns with the DHS cybersecurity strategy. Read more.

Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Bloomberg Government’s Technocrat!