Federal Engagement in AI Standards Detailed in NIST Draft Plan

Posted July 23, 2019

Getting Smarter

The March/April issue of BI&T, AAMI’s peer-reviewed and award-winning journal, features a cover story on artificial intelligence. It details how the burgeoning AI revolution is set to alter the development of medical devices and infuse the healthcare technology field with new tools for optimizing all manner of device management activities. Get the details at www.aami.org/bit.

Working with BSI, AAMI also has released a position paper on artificial intelligence and machine learning, looking at the role of standardization. The paper is complimentary and available to download.

The AAMI Podcast also covers artificial intelligence in episode 29.

Noting that artificial intelligence (AI) is vital to the future of the U.S. economy and national security, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a draft plan for federal government involvement in AI standards, including those used in healthcare.

The draft document, U.S. Leadership in AI: Plan for Federal Engagement in Developing Technical Standards and Related Tools, as published in response to a February 2019 executive order by President Donald Trump. It is intended to serve as a roadmap for fostering federal agency involvement in the development of technically sound and appropriate AI standards and priorities for research.

The draft notes that "standards that are not fit-for-purpose, are not available when needed, or that are designed around less than ideal technological solutions may hamper innovation and constrain the effective or timely development and deployment of trustworthy AI technologies." On the other hand, "AI standards that articulate requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics can help to ensure that AI technologies and systems meet critical objectives for functionality, interoperability, and trustworthiness, and perform accurately, reliably, and safely."

The draft plan calls for increasing the pace of innovation in AI through federal agency commitment to the following four actions:

  1. Enhancing AI standards–related knowledge, leadership, and federal agency coordination
  2. Promoting research that will advance how trustworthiness can be incorporated into AI standards and tools
  3. Focusing on public-private partnerships to develop and use AI standards and related tools to advance trustworthy AI
  4. Advancing AI standards for U.S. economic interests, national security interests, and other developmental activities through international engagement

“AI is already transforming so many aspects of our lives and has the potential to do much more,” said Walter G. Copan, undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and the director of NIST, in a statement. “The federal government has an important role to play, in partnership with industry and academia, to ensure that the U.S. maintains its leadership in AI. We want to make the most of this technology, while ensuring safety, privacy, and security.”

The document was released on July 2 and underwent a public commenting period that ended on July 19. As directed by the executive order, the final plan is due to the White House on August 10. Additional information can be found at the NIST's AI Standards webpage.