Q: When did the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence start?

A: The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence was formally established in August 2018 by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. The Commission’s members were appointed in October and November 2018. In March 2019, the Commissioners first assembled to receive orientation information and briefings from the White House, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and various agencies in the U.S. Intelligence Community. The Commission began its substantive work of reviewing artificial intelligence advances and associated technologies after the initial meeting.

Q: How many Commissioners are there and who appointed the Commissioners?

A: There are fifteen Commissioners appointed to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. Of the fifteen Commissioners, twelve were appointed by members of Congress, two were appointed by the Secretary of Defense, and one was appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. You can find information about all 15 Commission members on our website.

Q: How long will the Commission exist?

A: The Commission is a temporary organization. At this time, and as directed by Congress in the FY19 NDAA, the Commission will submit its final report to Congress in October 2020. The Commission will cease operations following the submission of its final report. Congress is currently considering an extension for the Commission in the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA.

Q: What is the scope of the Commission’s review?

A: Congress asked the Commission to “review advances in artificial intelligence, related machine learning developments, and associated technologies.” Congress further elaborated that the review “shall consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and associated technologies by the United States to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.” The enacting legislation lays out the full scope of the Commission’s review. You can find the full text of the Commission’s enacting legislation here.

Q: How is the Commission organized?

A: The Commission is comprised of four working groups structured around four categories. Each working group meets bi-monthly and is comprised of a subset of commissioners, and two to three permanent staff. The working groups are Maintaining U.S. Global Leadership in AI Research; Maintaining Global Leadership in National Security in AI Application; Preparing our Citizens for an AI Future; and Ensuring International Competitiveness and Cooperation in AI. Additionally, there are three Special Project Groups -- Public/Private Partnerships; Ethical Development and Use of AI for National Security; and AI Data for National Security. Additional information on how NSCAI is organized can be found here.

Q: What is the current size of the staff at NSCAI?

A: The NSCAI staff is comprised of less than 30 full-time staff members, as well as detailees from various Federal entities.

Q: How does the Commission define artificial intelligence?

A: For the purposes of its work, the Commission is using the definition of artificial intelligence as defined by Congress in the Commission’s enacting legislation. Specifically, Congress defined it for the Commission as:

(1) Any artificial system that performs tasks under varying and unpredictable circumstances without significant human oversight, or that can learn from experience and improve performance when exposed to data sets.

(2) An artificial system developed in computer software, physical hardware, or other context that solves tasks requiring human-like perception, cognition, planning, learning, communication, or physical action.

(3) An artificial system designed to think or act like a human, including cognitive architectures and neural networks.

(4) A set of techniques, including machine learning that is designed to approximate a cognitive task.

(5) An artificial system designed to act rationally, including an intelligent software agent or embodied robot that achieves goals using perception, planning, reasoning, learning, communicating, decision-making, and acting.

Q: How many meetings has the Commission held and who are they meeting with?

A: The Commission’s staff has held numerous meetings with individuals or entities interested in AI and national security issues, including engagements with leading AI experts from industry, government, academia, non-profit organizations, and individuals on a variety of AI topics. The Commission’s members have also held fourteen working group meetings and three plenary meetings consisting of all Commission members. Partner entities, allies, and others have provided Commission members with classified and unclassified briefings on topics within the Commission’s scope of its review.

Q: Will the Commission host public meetings?

A: Yes. To date, the Commission has been solely in an assessment phase, focused on receiving briefings from experts and reviewing existing AI and national security content to inform its interim report. The Commission’s first public engagement will be a conference on November 5, 2019. This conference will bring together thought leaders and the Commission’s members to discuss some of the issues identified during the Commission’s assessment phase. Registration for the conference will be open to the public in mid-October 2019 on the Conference web page. As the Commission moves into the next phase of its review, it plans to host public meetings to solicit feedback on AI and national security issues from members of the public. The schedule of public meetings has not been confirmed and will be announced via the Commission’s website and its social media accounts.

Q: Does the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) apply to NSCAI?

A: The Commission, as established by Congress, is not subject to FACA because all of the Commission’s members are deemed to be Federal employees. However, the Commission strives to provide access and information to the public. This includes the Commission’s mandated series of reports (the July 2019 Initial Report, expected November 2019 Interim Report, and its Final Report), and will include a public conference on AI and national security issues in November 2019 and future public engagements with Commission members in 2020.

Q: How can I request information from the Commission?

A: To the extent practicable, the Commission will proactively provide information via its website. You can find information and documents posted to the Commission’s website. If you would like to make an inquiry to the Commission, please email: inquiry@nscai.gov.