Is It Time For A Secretary of Technology?

Is It Time For A Secretary of Technology?

John Nosta 16/05/2023
Is It Time For A Secretary of Technology?

A cabinet-level position may be an essential step forward for America’s stewardship of technology and AI.

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has brought about significant changes in society, necessitating the establishment of a cabinet-level position for technology and AI. Currently, AI policy falls under the jurisdiction of the Director of the ≈of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. Arati Prabhakar. However, due to the magnitude of AI-related issues, three key principles should be considered: elevating the role to cabinet-level status, requiring congressional vetting of the candidate, and ensuring full disclosure and transparency. Elevating the position would enhance its visibility, enabling better coordination and unified policy-making across different sectors.

The rapid evolution of artificial intelligence is fundamentally reshaping our society. As it permeates into every sector from healthcare and education to transportation and defense, the need for comprehensive AI policy is more pressing than ever. As it stands, the responsibility for advising on science and technology issues, including AI, falls under the purview of Dr. Arati Prabhakar, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. However, given the magnitude of the issues surrounding AI, it’s time to consider three key principles: establishing a cabinet-level position for technology and artificial intelligence, a requirement for a comprehensive congressional vetting of the candidate and a commitment for full disclosure and transparency.

A Cabinet-Level Position

Elevating the role to cabinet-level status would enhance its visibility and influence, promoting more effective governance and policy-making. In this elevated position, the individual guiding AI policy would be better able to coordinate cross-departmental efforts, ensuring a unified approach to AI policy across diverse fields. It would also enable the role to more effectively liaise with international bodies and foreign governments, bolstering the United States’ leadership in this globally interconnected field.

Public Disclosure and Scrutiny

The second principle, requiring congressional approval for the role, would ensure a higher level of disclosure and vetting of the candidate. Congressional hearings would provide a platform for an open and democratic discussion about the candidate’s qualifications, views, and plans for managing AI policy. This process is crucial for fostering public trust and ensuring that the individual in this role is prepared to address the many challenges and opportunities AI presents.

Disclosure and Transparency

The dynamic and complex nature of AI requires a deep understanding of its underpinnings, making a strong technology background essential for the role. The ideal candidate should have significant experience in AI, ideally within the industry, to understand the nuanced challenges and opportunities that it presents. However, this high level of industry involvement necessitates a greater level of transparency. The candidate must openly disclose their professional ties to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to assure the public that their decisions will be made in the best interest of the public rather than any individual organization. By maintaining this transparency, we can ensure that the individual in this cabinet-level position is fully equipped to handle the technical complexities of AI policy and maintains the highest level of integrity and public trust.

The rapidly evolving landscape of AI calls for a new approach to AI policy in the U.S. government. By adhering to these three principles — elevating the role to cabinet-level, significant congressional vetting and unprecedented transparency— we can ensure more comprehensive and democratic governance of AI. This is an opportunity that the U.S. government must seize to remain at the forefront of AI innovation and governance, and to ensure that the opportunities offered by AI are realized while addressing the challenges it presents. 

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John Nosta

Digital Health Expert

John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

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