On the morning of March 16, the Data Coalition hosted a public forum on how to use artificial intelligence in public sector regulation. As the Coalition notes, Congress enacted the National AI Initiative Act and the AI in Government Act in 2020, which required the Biden administration to launch of the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force. The following remarks focus upon how open government can prevent digital redlining, as prepared for delivery in six minutes or less.
Today is National Freedom of Information Day, chosen in honor of President James Madison’s birthday, often cited as a founding father of open government in the United States. https://themarkup.org/denied/2021/08/25/the-secret-bias-hidden-in-mortgage-approval-algorithms
This public forum is happening during Sunshine Week, when we celebrate the public’s right to know and access to information.
That gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk more about how government transparency and disclosure can accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) while protecting privacy, security, and human rights.
As law becomes encoded by technology, code has become law.
Accelerating AI in the public sector must not come at the expense of human rights, civil liberties, or the public’s right to know, which are central to democratic societies.
AI will be part of everyday life, but public sector algorithms have special importance: people don’t have a choice. From making unemployment decisions to getting loans to parole hearings to education and work, code is going to govern how we live, work, play, learn, and govern.
Public sector algorithms must be auditable to ensure that existing inequity and injustice is not codified in a rush to modernize.
Open data and open source code can reveal and check algorithmic bias and racial, gender, or religious discrimination in public services, accommodations, and access to information.
Over the last five years, other nations have enacted laws and regulations that focus on the transparency, participation, and accountability of public sector algorithms, from France to the Netherlands to New Zealand.
In France, the Digital Republic Law mandates transparency of government-used algorithms. Public agencies are required to publicly list any algorithmic tools they use, and to publish their rules.
Imagine Congress ordering federal agencies to do so at Code.gov, and OMB forcing the issue.
Imagine an explicit extension of the Freedom of Information Act to code and meta data.
Imagine investment in the human and technical capacity of the SEC, FEC, & FTC to audit the use of AI across societies.
Imagine every city, state and democratic nation joining a global open algorithms network and committing to engaging everyone governed by code and upholding the rights of the people in these new systems.
Imagine a democratic vision for AI in the public sector that centers on human rights and the needs of the public to know in order to be self-governing, instead of authoritarian coercion, control, secrecy, opacity, and secrecy
The federal data strategy was part of the 4th National Action Plan for Open Government for the Open Government Partnership.
How many of you have ever heard of it? Please ask your colleagues in government when the General Services Administration and White House will begin co-creating a 5th plan that includes commitments on AI and democracy.
This Sunshine Week, please commit to pushing our government of, by, and for the people to collaborate WITH the people in developing legislation and rules that govern its use, codifying our “bill of rights” into the technologies we develop and use every day.