Iowa State’s Translational AI Center (TrAC) to Participate in Department of Commerce Consortium Dedicated to AI Safety
Dan Kirkpatrick, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research
Posted Feb 9, 2024
The Translational AI Center (TrAC), a university level research center at Iowa State University of Science and Technology, is joining more than 200 of the nation’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) stakeholders to participate in a U.S. Department of Commerce initiative to support the development and deployment of trustworthy and safe AI. Established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium (AISIC) will bring together AI creators and users, academics, government and industry researchers, and civil society organizations to meet this mission.
“TrAC and Iowa State are excited to be a part of the NIST US AI Safety Institute Consortium,” said the center’s director, Soumik Sarkar. “As AI is impacting every sector, ranging from healthcare, transportation, energy, manufacturing to food production and agriculture, building safe and trustworthy AI solutions is ever more critical. As an academic partner, we look forward to contributing to this collaborative effort to have a deeper understanding of the risks posed by the advanced AI tools and design verifiable ways to mitigate them.”
“The U.S. government has a significant role to play in setting the standards and developing the tools we need to mitigate the risks and harness the immense potential of artificial intelligence. President Biden directed us to pull every lever to accomplish two key goals: set safety standards and protect our innovation ecosystem. That’s precisely what the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium is set up to help us do,” said Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo. “Through President Biden’s landmark Executive Order, we will ensure America is at the front of the pack – and by working with this group of leaders from industry, civil society, and academia, together we can confront these challenges to develop the measurements and standards we need to maintain America’s competitive edge and develop AI responsibly.”
The consortium includes more than 200 member companies and organizations that are on the frontlines of developing and using AI systems, as well as the civil society and academic teams that are building the foundational understanding of how AI can and will transform our society.
Participating entities represent the nation’s largest companies and its innovative startups; creators of the world’s most advanced AI systems and hardware; key members of civil society and the academic community; and representatives of professions with deep engagement in AI’s use today. The consortium also includes state and local governments, as well as non-profits. The consortium will also work with organizations from like-minded nations that have a key role to play in setting interoperable and effective safety around the world. The full list of consortium participants is available here.
TrAC became an Iowa Board of Regents-approved research center in February 2022. More than 50 faculty members, representing all Iowa State academic colleges, are involved in the center. These faculty members are focused on applying AI to several key areas of subject-matter expertise: autonomy and smart infrastructure; food, energy, and water; biology, health care, and quality of life; materials, design, and manufacturing; financial technology; and AI ethics.
TrAC also serves as a pre-compete industrial nexus of multiple companies (small, medium, and large) from different sectors applying AI in their businesses. Because of these private-sector relationships, TrAC is well-positioned to play a crucial role in developing new guidelines, tools, methods, protocols, and best practices to facilitate the evolution of industry standards for developing or deploying AI in safe, secure, and trustworthy ways.
“AI is a critical tool that can deliver so much positive societal impact, from advancing health care to supporting economic growth and development. This technology is also evolving very rapidly, so there is an urgent need to establish guidelines and standards for the development and deployment of trustworthy and safe AI,” said Iowa State Vice President for Research, Peter Dorhout. “As a university, we’re delighted that TrAC will have a seat at the table in this Department of Commerce initiative that will be crucial for fostering AI’s safe and responsible deployment and for bolstering society’s confidence in this important technology.”
More information on AISIC can be found here.