National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Submits 2020 Interim Report and Third Quarter Recommendations to Congress and the President


WASHINGTON, DC – The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) submitted its 2020 Interim Report and Third Quarter Recommendations to the President and Congress today. Commissioners deliberated on and approved the recommendations via a virtual, public plenary meeting on Thursday, October 8, 2020. The plenary was held virtually due to the in-person meeting restrictions associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The final set of recommendations are available here, as well as a summary found here.

The Commission reviewed and approved 66 non-partisan recommendations for both the Executive and Legislative branches and believes that they should immediately be implemented in the following three areas:

Organize for AI and Emerging Technologies Competition

AI and emerging technologies are the cornerstone of national competitiveness and require sustained attention at the highest levels of government. The Commission recommends creating a Technology Competitiveness Council, chaired by the Vice President and led by a new Assistant to the President, to develop and implement a national technology leadership strategy and integrate relevant technological, economic, and security policies.

To win in a technological competition with AI at the center, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Intelligence Community (IC) must organize for speed and agility, integrating the perspectives of technologists and operators at every level. This quarter, the Commission recommends further elevating the role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in DoD and designating a CTO for the IC to drive the delivery of AI-enabled capabilities to the warfighter at speed and scale. Furthermore, the Commission recommends ways for the DoD to immediately enhance collaboration with industry partners on AI R&D and enable faster transition of successful technologies.

Additionally, AI’s centrality to the entire constellation of emerging technologies requires that the United States develop holistic strategies across a variety of sectors to sustain U.S. competitiveness. The Commission analyzes how AI will impact other key associated technologies, and provides recommendations on steps the United States should take to better compete across emerging technologies, specifically by prioritizing biotechnology leadership given AI’s potential to fundamentally transform the field; supporting specific quantum computing applications for national security; and improving America’s supply chain resilience by promoting domestic fabrication of microelectronics and other critical industries.

Democratize AI Innovation and Expand the AI Talent Pipeline

The Federal Government has the responsibility and the opportunity to unleash American innovation by creating an AI research environment that will set the foundation for future national security and economic advantages. To do so, the government should make big bets on talent – providing promising AI researchers the resources and space to pursue innovative ideas that will push the frontiers of technology; and support multidisciplinary teams in efforts to solve significant challenges with AI solutions. The government should further democratize access to AI and support its application to a range of fields through creation of domain-specific AI testbeds for researchers and industry, and curation of complex, exemplar data sets.

The United States needs to expand its national pool of AI and STEM talent to improve both the economy and national security. To achieve this, the Commission recommends focusing on creating new career paths for military and civilian government employees, improving STEM and AI undergraduate and graduate education, and continuing education for adults. In addition, for national security departments and agencies to become effective AI enterprises, they must develop an AI proficient workforce. The Commission recommends bold, more aggressive actions focused on recruiting and managing a technical workforce, educating leaders and policy experts, and improving the acquisition workforce.

Marshal International AI Cooperation

The United States must build on the strength of its allies and partners to win the global technology competition and preserve free and open societies.

The Commission recommends a comprehensive strategic framework to marshal international multilateral and bilateral cooperation to achieve this goal. First, the United States must expedite the responsible development and fielding of AI by NATO and member states and shape defense cooperation agreements with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific. Second, the United States must build a multilateral effort to advance the responsible use of AI, by leading a coalition of democracies to advance the responsible use of AI, further innovation, and strengthen diplomatic ties and improve coordination with private industry and international partners to ensure new emerging technology standards are based on technical considerations and best practices, not political manipulation, and address national security needs. Third, the United States must deepen its AI bilateral partnerships with free and open societies. It should pursue this through a formal tech alliance between the world’s largest democracies – the United States and India – and a strategic dialogue between the world’s largest economies – the United States and the European Union – to address the challenges and opportunities presented by AI. The United States should also adopt a Blueprint for AI Cooperation to guide its efforts with other key allies and partners.

The Commission is an independent federal entity, and its goal is to complement and strengthen ongoing AI-related efforts in the Executive Branch and Congress, while also making additional recommendations to integrate artificial intelligence into national security programs. The Commission and its staff have received numerous classified and unclassified briefings since the Commission began work in March 2019 and they will continue to reach out to academia, industry, non-profits, associations, government, and others to gather information and formulate recommendations for the final report.

The Commission’s 2019 Interim Report, First and Second Quarter Recommendations Reports and other materials are available on the Commission’s website here.