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*** A group of tech and government advocacy groups are urging states to reject proposed legislation that requires keystroke-level oversight of government contractors to obtain greater billing transparency. A March 25 letter signed by the Information Technology Industry Council, the Association of Government Accountants and other groups is critical of bills popping up in state legislatures nationwide that would require vendors with state contracts over $100,000 or so to install monitoring software.

The bills, the letter states, are "based on model language being pushed by a single company, ostensibly as a mechanism to increase transparency and oversight in state contracting." The company, which is not mentioned in the letter, is TransparentBusiness. It sells software that promises accountability to remote and contract workforces by monitoring keystroke activity.

In February, the National Association of State CIOs issued a statement opposing the same sort of contractor monitoring legislation "because of significant risks to citizen privacy and federal regulatory compliance concerns."

*** The Department of Defense is "light years" away from developing the kind of lethal, autonomous weapons systems contemplated in sci-fi, according to Lt. Gen. John Shanahan, director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in the Pentagon's CIO shop.

JAIC is charged with coordinating all DOD AI projects with an annual budget of more than $15 million. While JAIC isn't in control of every project, Shanahan will have visibility into how DOD spends nearly $1 billion in AI research and development funding planned in the FY 2020 budget.

This week, Shanahan and other AI experts will be out and about at several Washington, D.C., events talking up the promise of AI. At a March 12 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Shanahan teed up some of the big concerns DOD is facing as it goes all-in on AI.

"Based on my work in Project Maven, I can tell you the algorithm for a field hit are light years away from Skynet and fully autonomous weapons systems," Shanahan told lawmakers. "But we know we have to start thinking about the policy implications of that. If you were to ask ... where the highest temperature is outside the department, it's on the question of lethal autonomous weapons"

There's more process-oriented work to iron out as well, including common tools, shared data libraries, governance and architecture. There's also infrastructure -- AI is one of the big rationales behind the Pentagon's $10 billion warfighter cloud push.

Posted on Mar 26, 2019 at 12:48 AM


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