Portman, Heinrich Secure Groundbreaking Advancements for Artificial Intelligence in FY 2021 NDAA


Senators Spearhead Effort to Create a National Strategy for AI and Authorize $1.5 Billion for AI Initiatives Over the Next Five Years


December 15, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), the co-founders of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, have secured the most significant advancements for Artificial Intelligence (AI) ever included in a defense policy bill.

The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes versions of four major pieces of legislation championed by Senators Portman and Heinrich that include: 

  • Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA) 
  • Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act 
  • National AI Research Resource Task Force Act 
  • Deepfakes Report Act

“We cannot take America's AI leadership for granted. Right now, China is engaging in a full court press to unseat the United States’ dominance in AI,” said Portman. “I’m pleased the FY 2021 NDAA conference report includes the AI-IA, National AI Research Resource Task Force Act, Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act, and the Deepfakes Report Act which provide groundbreaking advancements in AI in our nation. By coordinating and synchronizing our country’s research and development efforts, these bipartisan bills ensure not just that the United States remains an AI leader, but that it does so by developing AI technology that prioritizes American values.” 

“Artificial intelligence – and the opportunities and challenges it will bring – will have serious national security implications,” said Heinrich. "If we defer AI development to other nations, important ethical, safety, and privacy principles will be at risk, which not only harms the United States, but also the international community as a whole. I have been proud to work alongside Senator Portman to create bipartisan solutions and put into place policy, people, and potential for this new market to truly take transportation, health care, manufacturing, and national security to the next level. I will keep fighting for provisions like those that we secured in the FY 2021 NDAA to step up our domestic efforts and prevent the unethical use and proliferation of AI technologies around the globe, and right here in the U.S.”

Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA)

The FY 2021 NDAA includes a modified version of the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (AI-IA) which will help establish a comprehensive national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy. Portman, co-founder of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, introduced the bipartisan legislation last year with Senator Heinrich. The legislation will organize a coordinated national strategy for developing AI and authorize a $2.2 billion federal investment over five years to build an AI-ready workforce, accelerating the responsible delivery of AI applications from government agencies, academia, and the private sector over the next 10 years. The NDAA increases the legislation’s proposed authorization of funds to more than $6 billion.

Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act

The conferenced NDAA includes provisions that take important steps in increasing our military’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities by including provisions from Portman and Heinrich’s bipartisan Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act. 

Specifically, these provisions will:

  • Require the Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to report directly to the Secretary of Defense;
  • Ensure that the Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is three-star equivalent;
  • Modify the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude test to add a computational assessment to identify applicants with skills in AI; and
  • Provide direction on the use of direct hiring authorities to help bring AI experts into the Department of Defense.

National AI Research Resource Task Force Act

The bill also includes a version of Portman and Heinrich’s bipartisan National AI Research Resource Task Force Act, which will establish a task force to develop a detailed roadmap for the development of a national cloud computer for Artificial Intelligence (AI) research. This legislation will convene a group of technical experts across academia, government, and industry to develop a detailed roadmap for how the United States can build, deploy, govern, and sustain a national research cloud.   

The National AI Research Resource Task Force Act is supported by:

  • Stanford University
  • The Ohio State University 
  • Princeton University
  • UCLA
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Duke University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Allen Institute for AI
  • OpenAI
  • Mozilla
  • IEEE-USA
  • Google
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • NVIDIA
  • Orbital Insight
  • Calypso AI 

Deepfakes Report Act

The conferenced NDAA includes a version of Portman, Heinrich, and Senator Brian Schatz’s (D-HI) Deepfake Report Act. The bipartisan measure directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct an annual study of deepfakes and other types of similar content. Deepfakes are hyper-realistic, digital manipulations of real content that depict events that did not actually occur. The legislation requires DHS to assess the technology used to generate deepfakes, the uses of deepfakes by foreign and domestic entities, and available countermeasures to deepfakes, to help policymakers and the public better understand the threats deepfakes pose to our national security and election security. The Deepfake Report Act passed the Senate in October 2019 as a stand-alone bill. 

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