National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Becomes Law in FY2021 NDAA

Jan 11, 2021


On January 1, 2021, the Senate followed the House in overriding President Trump’s veto of H.R.6395, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, rendering the bill law. The FY2021 NDAA includes the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative Act, which establishes a framework for coordinating AI research and policy across the federal government and a national network of AI research institutes. The network of institutes will be led by NSF, DOE, the Department of Commerce, NASA and DOD with each institute focusing on fundamental AI research related to mission-driven applications.
ASME advocated for the passage of the bill, including issuing three Position Statements urging Congress to include and enact the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act in the FY2021 NDAA: President Trump vetoed the bill on December 23, 2020, calling the bill a “a “gift” to China and Russia,” but the main reasons for the President’s veto is that the bill directs the Department of Defense to rename certain military installations named after Confederate leaders and it limits the President’s use of military construction funds that can be used to respond to a national emergency, which President Trump has been using to fund his wall along the southern border.
House Science and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) issued a statement on the passage of the bill, asserting that “The passage of the National AI Initiative Act sends a signal to both our allies and adversaries that the United States will continue to be a global leader in the development and adoption of trustworthy artificial intelligence. This legislation will create a broad national strategy to accelerate our investments in the responsible research and development of this critical technology, and the education and training of an AI workforce in the United States. Technological progress does not have to come at the expense of safety, security, fairness, or transparency. In fact, embedding our values in technology development is central to our economic competitiveness and national security.”
For more information or to read the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative Act in its entirety, please find “DIVISION E--NATIONAL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE INITIATIVE ACT OF 2020” in the final text of the NDAA.

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