Biden appoints AI Safety Institute leaders as NIST funding concerns linger

Key Points:

  • Elizabeth Kelly named director of the new US AI Safety Institute (USAISI) at NIST
  • Uncertainty about funding for USAISI
  • Calls for NIST funding ongoing

Summary:

The Biden administration has appointed Elizabeth Kelly, a key figure behind the President’s AI Executive Order, as the director of the US AI Safety Institute at NIST, along with Elham Tabassi as the chief technology officer. NIST, responsible for releasing an AI risk management framework and tasked with evaluating AI technologies, has been given significant responsibility in the White House’s AI EO. Despite limited details about the institute’s workings and funding, a bipartisan group seeks $10 million funding for USAISI. Lawmakers criticized NIST for lack of transparency in AI research grants, particularly in a collaboration with RAND Corporation. Rumman Chowdhury views NIST as nonpartisan experts but highlights funding challenges for USAISI. She praises USAISI’s alignment with NIST’s standards development work but notes its unfunded mandate and lack of Senate funding. Optimistic about USAISI’s potential within NIST, she emphasizes the importance of being science-focused over political in AI safety efforts.

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