OMB wants industry input on AI workforce guidance
- By Lia Russell
- Oct 17, 2019
NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com.
Artificial intelligence is shaping up to be one of the biggest disrupters and innovators for the U.S. federal workforce in decades, according to workforce experts, particularly in fields that are data-intensive.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding A.I., according to the Federal CIO Suzette Kent, was the potential loss of jobs -- a concern she said is legitimate but mitigated by the jobs that AI will create.
"We know for a fact that we are creating more jobs in the data space, in the computational sciences spaces, and the design spaces," she said at an Oct. 16 panel discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Council. "We have more gaps than we can fill. There are some roles that will be automated, but not too many people whom I talk to like entering data from one report to the next report."
OMB is currently drafting a memo and soliciting feedback from industry partners to regulate how agencies should use artificial intelligence in the workplace.
"We have to prepare our workforce for disruptions not seen since the Industrial Revolution," Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) said in a speech after the panel. He stated that there were some 38,000 open computing jobs available in his home state.
"We have to train our kids for 21st century jobs and twenty-second century jobs that don't even exist today," Hurd said. "Right now, we don't have the computer scientists and skilled technicians that we need." Existing reskilling programs for current federal workers and providing rigorous science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) education from the kindergarten level through higher education were some suggestions the U.S. could begin to plug the jobs gap, he added.
Hurd and Kent also pointed to the U.S.'s need to maintain its position as a world leader in emerging technology such as AI as a moral choice, citing its potential for misuse, such as China's use of AI to surveil and profile its Uighur minority population in Xinjiang province.
In February, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to reaffirm the U.S.'s commitment to researching and developing AI systems through its American AI Initiative, a campaign to maintain the U.S.'s position as a world leader in technology and protect its national security while respecting citizens' right to privacy and surveillance concerns.
Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.
Contact Lia at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.