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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Artificial Intelligence Symposium


Thank you, Melissa, for that introduction. It’s great to be with all of you today.

Thank you to our cohosts, FinRegLab and the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. And thanks to Senator Joni Ernst and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who will be here later today.

We’re thrilled to have key government, non-profit, academic, and private sector leaders here for our conversations centered around AI and the economy. Your attendance is a testament to the importance of this issue.

Today, we’re examining economic equity through the lens of AI, especially as it applies to the financial and healthcare sectors.

I know everyone here understands the vast potential of AI, as well as the risks.

The Commerce Department is leading several major initiatives to minimize those risks to individuals, organizations, and our society.

Congress assigned responsibility for developing an AI Risk Management Framework to our National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST.

We need a holistic, actionable, and widely accepted approach to addressing risks before, during, and after AI products and services are introduced to the marketplace.

The AI Risk Management Framework is part of a larger NIST-led research program focused on creating the foundation for trustworthy and responsible AI through measurements, testbeds, and benchmarks to help define bias and security in AI systems.

Our first panel today will take a deep dive into the topic of managing AI risk.

We’re also taking this conversation to our international partners and allies.

Next month, Secretary Raimondo will travel to Europe to meet with counterparts and discuss AI in the context of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, or TTC.

Building on commitments from the first TTC meeting in Pittsburgh last fall, we will advance the AI discussion with a focus on common approaches to managing AI risk. 

We’ve also recently announced the 27 inaugural members of the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee. I am thrilled with the impressive group of experts we’ve pulled together, and excited for the committee’s first meeting next Wednesday.

The committee will provide recommendations to the President on the current state of U.S. AI competitiveness, the science around AI, and AI workforce issues. Those recommendations will serve as building blocks for U.S. AI policy for decades to come.

Additionally, President Biden’s recent Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets directs the Commerce Department to develop a framework for enhancing U.S. competitiveness in digital assets technologies. We will be engaging the digital assets industry, civil society, and other stakeholders in this work over the coming months.

Today’s meeting is not just about AI and the economy: it is about charting a path for responsible and inclusive AI.

This means addressing diversity and financial inclusion. We’re keeping equity front of mind.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, is exploring the intersection of privacy, equity, and civil rights. NTIA will soon release a Request for Comment for additional information from the community. I encourage you to respond.

Today’s program includes a panel focused improving transparency and mitigating bias in the models used for consumer credit. We also will dig into AI in healthcare, looking at how to manage AI use in medical imaging that could adversely impact people of color.

These kinds of disparities are holding our country back.

A Kellogg Foundation study showed that the U.S. economy could be $8 trillion dollars larger by 2050 if the country eliminated racial disparities in health, education, incarceration, and employment.

Other studies show that racial and gender diversity improve a company’s bottom line.

America’s diversity is a competitive advantage, but only if we give everyone an opportunity to participate and fulfill their potential.

At the Commerce Department, we’re working to position America’s workers and businesses for success in the 21st century. And all Americans, especially those that have been historically excluded, should share in our prosperity.

Let me again express my appreciation to everyone joining us here today. Having this diverse range of viewpoints is essential to tackling the issues of AI and the economy.

Diversity challenges people to think differently and perform better.

I’m looking forward to the discussion on these and other issues in our next session.

Thank you.