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Why Businesses Should Pay Attention to the 2021 NDAA AI-Legislation

The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the few bills that the government must pass each year. It includes spending for military and defense, plus (this year) 4,500 pages of other guidelines, regulations, and bans for the coming year.

So what does this have to do with business tech? This coming year — a whole lot. Buckle up because the NDAA could have you reevaluating your approach to technology for years to come.

Investing Big in AI Initiatives

A key differentiator for businesses operating during Industry 4.0 will be the practical implementation of AI-driven initiatives. Whether you’re marketing your own AI product or looking for one for your organization, you’ll be getting a huge boost in 2021.

AI investments from key government bodies could help bring back top talent to the borders of the USA. It also encourages private investments in the same area, thanks to this wonderful phenomenon known as the “spillover effect.” The combination of resources is good news for businesses that need new solutions and those with their next big idea.

Cybersecurity is Ramping Up

With many organizations keeping their current remote construction, cybersecurity is a vital component moving into 2021. A recent IBM report found that data breaches cost an average of $3.86 million annually and the pandemic seems to have made it worse.

The NDAA includes some of the most extensive legislation for cybersecurity we’ve seen yet. For the non-defense sector, this includes new AI-specific guidelines designed by NIST. While these are not hard and fast rules, the NIST framework can offer a comprehensive start to evaluating security and governance from the organizational down to the granular level.

Research Could Improve AI-Human Relations

People still don’t trust artificial intelligence. Since AI is much better at the forecasting required for decisions than we are, we need to change that. Part of NIST’s new guidelines will include the development of trustworthy AI systems.

The director of NIST will also reach out to private sector experts for input and guidance. This will also include technology ethicists and social scientists. Direct investments like this help overcome AI’s mystery in decision making — when we fully understand how AI comes to decisions, it’s easier for humans to intervene or offer explanations.

Even further, this provides the public with the chance to comment on AI-initiatives. Public comment can be a mixed bag, but this could help improve public perception of AI initiatives.

Narrowing the Talent Gap

Businesses want to implement AI, but no one understands what that entails. In response, companies compete for the best and brightest in the AI space, leaving lots of openings unfilled and expectations mismanaged.

The NDAA will order the director of the National Science Foundation to fund research and education activities designed to fill this talent gap. It incentivizes organizations to innovate and encourages the best and brightest to pursue AI-related education.

In addition, the NSF will facilitate the search for expert-level faculty at higher education institutions. Many businesses partner with these universities and schools to hire grads right out of school, which could be great news for the talent market.

If you’re working with a team to retrain experts in-house, the funding also covers career retraining. Your existing team could be eligible to take advantage as mid-career professionals. Plus, the Director of the Office of Science Technology Policy will deliver a report on the existing infrastructure and talent market.

What All This Could Mean

Putting fuel to the fire, so to speak, allows businesses to take advantage of these future technologies with the full support of governing bodies. Up to now, legislation has operated on a piecemeal basis, but this newest initiative hopes to seal up those gaps.

The big wins for business could be:

And with such a focus on AI, companies can begin to unthaw initiatives frozen in years of patchwork fixes and one-off projects. The US is positioning itself once again as a top global leader in AI, but the NDAA won’t do it all for you. 

Starting now, it’s time for businesses to rethink their current AI-initiatives (or lack of them) and make those initial steps to find talent and restructure to embrace cybersecurity. Industry 4.0 won’t wait.

Writer Name

Elizabeth Wallace

Publication Date

Published on Jun 17, 2021


<p>The National Defense Authorization Act is on the verge of passing for 2021. Businesses may not normally look to the NDAA for guidance, but this year&#39;s suite of AI-specific initiatives could hold the key to some of the most perplexing issues business has with artificial intelligence. Here&#39;s why they should all be paying attention.</p>

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