Remarks of OSTP Director Arati Prabhakar at the Summit for Democracy
As Prepared for Delivery
Ministers, ambassadors, lawmakers, and other distinguished guests, it is such a pleasure to be here with all of you for today’s third session, focused on the emerging technologies that will shape our future.
President Biden often says we have to prove that democracy works in the 21st Century.
Science, technology, and innovation are essential to this task — because that’s how we open doors to step beyond the limitations of today into a different tomorrow, into a better tomorrow.
Innovation is integral to our progress. And It’s never been more important because at this pivotal point in time, we have immense aspirations.
We seek plentiful opportunity and robust health for every person. We seek global security. And we seek to manage the climate crisis and thrive despite it.
We’re living in a time of rapid technological innovation. Think about it. Artificial intelligence, biological technologies, new energy technologies, advances in the social sciences. Each of these brings extraordinary potential, and extraordinary risks.
The technologies are new. But the dilemma is an old one. Because technology’s power is a raw kind of power.
History shows that it has been used for both good and ill.
But we also know that when individuals and societies make smart, ethical choices about how to use them, powerful technologies — over time and in aggregate — have lifted up our communities, and our world.
That’s why we do this work. This is our extraordinary privilege. It also means that we have some extraordinary responsibilities.
At this summit, we come together as nations, researchers, innovators, investors, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs to commit to this work together.
These choices have never been more important as we see rapid innovation, especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is the most powerful technology of our times.
To seize its benefits, we must start by tackling its risks. We have already seen harms caused by existing AI systems.
Black men have been wrongly arrested and jailed when law enforcement relied on inaccurate facial recognition technologies.
And a company found that the AI-based system it used automatically gave lower marks to resumes referencing women.
Importantly, the risks related to reality distortion, to safety of physical systems, cyber systems, biological systems — the risk of bias, the risk to privacy — these will only grow more serious as these technologies advance.
That’s why the United States has taken many steps since the first Summit for Democracy to meet our responsibilities.
We’ve followed through on implementing a series of challenges to advance democracy-affirming technologies, and establishing national objectives for digital assets research and development.
We’ve released a Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. It outlines principles and practices that individuals, organizations, and policymakers can use as they design, develop, and deploy AI and automated systems.
This landmark blueprint can ensure important protections related to safety, civil rights, and civil liberties are integrated from start to finish.
We also released an AI Risk Management Framework. It provides those working with AI technologies with approaches that can increase people’s trust in AI systems.
We’re also working to stand up a National AI Research Resource.
Today, leading-edge AI research and development is being driven by deep-pocketed companies. We need AI to do much more than just serve business interests. We need applications that will also serve the public good.
That’s why we’re working to build this data and computational infrastructure that would create more opportunities for a much wider group of Americans to pursue AI research.
Most recently, just last month President Biden signed an Executive Order that promotes data equity. It instructs agencies to focus on emerging threats, such as algorithmic discrimination in automated technology.
And it also tells them to make sure their own use of AI and automated systems advance equity.
At this Summit, we’re also announcing actions to build on this work.
One is the launch of a Trustworthy AI Resource Center, a companion to the AI Risk Management Framework.
It’s a central resource for AI creators to access foundational content, technical documents, and toolkits to enable the responsible development and use of AI.
It’ll include standards, measurement methods, metrics, and data sets.
Another is our National Strategy to Advance Privacy-Preserving Data Sharing and Analytics.
The most interesting data in the world is about people. And that makes it the most dangerous data in the world as well.
This strategy is a roadmap to use privacy enhancing technologies to navigate this quandary.
These are actions we’re taking as a government. There also are important initiatives in civil society. I’ll mention just one good example.
The Partnership on AI is launching a multi-sector global task force for developing inclusive AI. This will be a first of its kind coalition, with partners from the private sector, academia, and civil society, focused on developing research and design methods for AI to root out algorithmic discrimination, safeguard rights, and promote equitable innovation.
This task force responds to the call of the AI Bill of Rights, and we’re happy to see this important work getting underway.
As democracies, we have the great opportunity and great responsibility to develop and use emerging technologies to reinforce our most important values.
Answers for the immense problems we face aren’t one-size-fits-all – they must be tailored to meet the local context.
Still, we can learn from and build on the efforts of one another. We all gain when countries in every part of the globe contribute to new knowledge.
That’s how we will achieve our greatest aspirations. That’s how we will prove democracy works in this complex century.