Meet the small federal agency handling AI regulation

No technology since nuclear fission will shape our collective future quite like artificial intelligence, so it’s paramount that AI systems are safe, secure, trustworthy and socially responsible, reports The Associated Press. 

But unlike the atom bomb, this paradigm shift has been almost completely driven by the private tech sector, which has been resistant to regulation. Billions are at stake, making the Biden administration’s task of setting standards for AI safety a major challenge.

To define the parameters, it has tapped a small federal agency, The National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST’s tools and measures define products and services from atomic clocks to election security tech and nanomaterials.

At the helm of the agency’s AI efforts is Elham Tabassi, NIST’s chief AI adviser. She shepherded the AI Risk Management Framework published 12 months ago that laid groundwork for Biden’s Oct. 30 AI executive order.

Iranian-born, Tabassi came to the U.S. in 1994 for her master’s in electrical engineering and joined NIST not long after. She is principal architect of a standard the FBI uses to measure fingerprint image quality.

The Associated Press recently conducted an interview with Tabassi about her work creating AI standards at NIST. Check it out here.