News  |  ,   |  February 19, 2020

New HAI-Funded Research Explores AI in Governance

News article by Michael Sellitto.
Published by Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI).


The impact of the private sector’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) is already a pressing topic in the national conversation. Less known, but also highly significant and impactful, is the rapid proliferation of AI in government — and its corresponding impact.

Last March, HAI funded research exploring the topic of AI’s growing role in federal agencies through our seed grant program. The findings were published yesterday in a report, “Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies” — the most comprehensive study of the subject ever conducted in the U.S. The report was commissioned by the Administrative Conference of the United States, an agency that provides advice for all federal regulatory agencies.

Co-led by Dan Ho, one of our newest associate directors, along with Stanford Law Professor David Freeman Engstrom, NYU Law Professor Catherine Sharkey, and California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, the study found that — contrary to the common perception that government’s technology is obsolescent — nearly half of all federal agencies are already employing AI, often in ways that make government work better and save money. These applications make essential and often beneficial decisions affecting millions of Americans in areas like environmental protection, criminal justice, social welfare benefits, financial regulation, health care, intellectual property and so on. The report also uncovered certain uses that give pause, particularly around the accountability of such tools.  [ . . . ]