UNESCO Adopts Ethical AI Guidelines: UNESCO’s 193 member states, including Russia and China, agreed last month on a new recommendation that the UN agency calls “the first global standard-setting instrument on the ethics of artificial intelligence.” The recommendation, while voluntary, calls on member states to ensure AI systems are developed and deployed ethically by implementing policy frameworks and tools such as impact assessments for AI systems, “strong enforcement mechanisms and remedial actions” that redress any harms systems cause, and data governance safeguards that protect the privacy of individuals. It also calls for bans on AI systems used for mass surveillance and social scoring, as well as a ban on autonomous systems that make life-or-death decisions without human involvement. Politico’s Melissa Heikkilä noted this is the first international agreement China has signed that calls for a ban on AI-powered mass surveillance and social scoring. While a UNESCO official declined to speculate on whether Beijing would follow the recommendation, she told Heikkilä that she hoped the recommendation’s impact would show up in the EU’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act and in the behavior of private companies developing AI systems.
Sec. 217 requires the DOD to establish a national network for microelectronics R&D. Last year’s NDAA had authorized such a network as part of the CHIPS for America Act, but the updated language in the new bill mandates it.
Sec. 226 requires the DOD to “review the potential applications of artificial intelligence and digital technology to the platforms, processes, and operations” of the military and to establish performance metrics for AI adoption efforts.
Sec. 228 requires the DOD to establish “executive education activities on emerging technologies” for select officers and civilian staff.
Sec. 247 requires the DOD to provide regular reports and briefings to Congress on its implementation of recommendations made by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence in its final report.
DOD Reorganizes Tech Offices: In a memo published late yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced the creation of a new position, the Chief Digital and AI Officer, who will be responsible for coordinating all of the Pentagon’s data, AI and digital efforts. Hicks’ memo also outlined a significant reorganization of three of the Pentagon’s key AI and data offices — the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Defense Digital Service and the office of the Chief Data Officer. Once the office of the CDAO reaches initial operating capability (sometime between February 1 and June 1, 2022), the three offices will report to the yet-to-be-announced CDAO, who will, in turn, report directly to Hicks. The plan — which Breaking Defense’s Aaron Mehta scooped last week — was met with both praise and concern. While some observers applauded it, Mehta spoke to others who worried the reorganization would strip the offices — all of which were formed within the last five years — of their (unusual-for-the-Pentagon) independence. A Pentagon official acknowledged and tried to downplay these concerns, telling journalists ahead of the memo’s release that the changes were the next step in the young offices’ evolution and a key to the DOD’s embrace of AI and other emerging technologies as part of its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) strategy. However, the official didn’t rule out that the three offices could be merged and subsumed by the office of the CDAO, but said that, for now, the current JAIC, DDS and CDO leaders would remain in place.
FTC Sues to Block Nvidia-Arm Deal: Last week, the Federal Trade Commission sued to block Nvidia’s acquisition of British chip designer Arm. The news serves as the latest blow for the beleaguered deal, originally reached in 2020 for $40 billion (though Nvidia’s surging stock price has now driven the value of the deal up to $80 billion) — the UK government, which completed an initial investigation into the deal’s national security implications earlier this year, launched a “Phase Two” investigation last month, soon after the European Commission opened its own probe. The FTC’s complaint argues that the deal would significantly undermine competition across the computing industry — it singled out driver assistance systems, DPU-based SmartNICs, and cloud computing CPUs as the markets most likely to be undermined by the merger — and incentivize Nvidia to “harm its Arm-reliant rivals.” Often called “the Switzerland of chips” because of its relatively neutral approach to licensing, Arm sells its chip designs to many of Nvidia’s direct competitors. While Nvidia originally planned to finalize the deal by March 2022, the FTC suit and the ongoing investigations have made that timeline all but impossible. An administrative trial for the FTC’s case is scheduled for May 10.
In Translation CSET’s translations of significant foreign language documents on AI
PRC Biodiversity Protection:Opinions on Further Strengthening Biodiversity Protection. This official PRC document offers guidelines for the protection of biodiversity in China. It sets specific targets for the years 2025 and 2035 for environmental indicators such as forest cover and wetland protection. The document calls for more severe punishments for individuals and businesses that damage ecosystems, and recommends the inclusion of biodiversity protection language in Chinese officials’ performance evaluations.
Russian AI Think Tank Report:Artificial Intelligence Almanac: 2020 Index Report. This report by a Russian AI think tank provides an overview of Russia’s AI landscape as of the end of 2020. The authors argue that the Russian AI industry is lagging relative to other countries, and recommend a three- to five-fold increase in Russian AI research funding.
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