AI in America: What’s Happening Here

Pam Sornson, JD

March 19, 2024

The United States, as a nation and along with several of its states, is pursuing its goals of legislating governance mandates over the use of artificial intelligence within its jurisdictions. Appropriately concerned about the threats posed by the technology, as well as enthused by its benefits and opportunities, political leaders are seeking to gain some form of control over the as-yet unregulated digital capacity before it becomes too deeply embedded in society in its present ‘wild west’ state.


Personal Problem. National Challenge.

The demand for AI regulation grows daily as more individuals experience fraud and loss caused by nefarious AI operatives. The increase in fraud attempts is growing exponentially as the technology infiltrates unregulated – and therefore unprotected – corporate databanks. Messages sent through all channels now mimic the authentic ones sent by trusted merchants and service providers, confusing and misleading their recipients.

Federal agencies are very aware of the challenge: “Fraudsters are using AI tools to impersonate individuals with eerie precision and at a much wider scale. With voice cloning and other AI-driven scams on the rise, protecting Americans from impersonator fraud is more critical than ever,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has already finalized a rule prohibiting the impersonation of businesses and government offices; it’s now working on a similar regulation banning the impersonation of people.

The FTC’s action is just one avenue America is pursuing in its quest to gain control over rampant AI interferences within its territories. In fact, the nation launched its official AI management strategy in 2019 when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its Plan for Federal AI Standards Engagement. Back then, the main goal was to provide guidance for setting priorities and levels of government oversight into future AI developments to “speed the pace of reliable, robust, and trustworthy AI technology development.” Fast forward four years, and the new goal set includes stopping the overwhelming influx of unwanted AI programming while harnessing its emerging technological capacities to improve national fortunes.


Interim Steps

In the intervening years, the United States has made progress in its effort to manage AI resources:

In May 2021, NIST developed its AI Standards Coordination Working Group (AISCWG) to “facilitate the coordination of federal government agency activities related to the development and use of AI standards, and to develop recommendations relating to AI standards [for] the Interagency Committee on Standards Policy (ICSP) as appropriate.”

Also in 2021, the National Defense Authorization Action of 2021 (NDAA) specifically authorized NIST to develop AI parameters for the Department of Defense, Department of Energy national security programs, Department of State, and the Intelligence Community. President Biden signed the ‘action’ into law in December 2023.

The National Science Foundation now offers grants in support of AI research and development aimed at ensuring access to reliable and trusted technology. From this source have arisen the National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, which enlist public and private entities to collaborate on potential responses to AI evolutions, both positive and negative.

The U.S. Department of State is busy working with international organizations and governments to integrate wide-ranging AI regulatory efforts into a cohesive whole. The agency strongly supported the principles developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is also a member of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, which is housed in the OEDC and works to connect the theories underlying AI programming and the practices that emerge in its development.

Progress by these agencies continues to be made.


Widespread Federal Efforts

Today, numerous federal agencies are engaged in AI research and development to improve processes, reduce risk and loss, and enhance their capacity to serve their constituents. The national General Accounting Office (GAO) monitors those activities and acts as an overseer of anything that affects the country as a whole, including AI initiatives. The GAO has developed an AI Accountability Framework that guides individual agencies in their AI efforts regarding data management, information monitoring, systems governance, and entity performance. From the federal point of view, AI programming emerging from these departments must be responsible, reliable, equitable, traceable, and governable. The framework guides each agency as it initiates its AI systems to ensure they’re compatible with those mandate standards.

The GAO also tracks those efforts and reports on their progress, and its recent December 2023 report reveals strides being made – and steps to be taken:

Twenty of 23 agencies reported current or expected AI ‘use cases’ where AI would be used to resolve an issue or problem. Of those, NASA and the Departments of Commerce and Energy have found the most number of situations where AI will help national efforts (390, 285, and 117, respectively). More than 1,000 possible options have been surfaced across the government.

There were only 200 or so instances of AI in practice as of 2022, while more than 500 were in the planning phase.

Ten of the 23 agencies had fully implemented all the AI standards mandated for their agency, while 12 had made progress but had not completed those tasks. The Department of Defense was exempted from this review because it was issued other AI mandates to follow.

The GAO report also provides recommendations for 19 of the 23 agencies, which include next steps into 2024 and beyond. For the most part, these recommendations focus on ensuring that organizations downstream from their national overseer (including federal, state, and regional agencies) have the guidance and standards they need to provide appropriate AI implementation within their area. Some of those recommendations include adding AI-dedicated personnel, enhancing AI-capable technologies, and ensuring a labor force that is well-versed in AI operations.

Individual states are also developing AI management resources, although those are focused on in-state needs and opportunities. The White House has devised a new Bill of Rights for AI, and newly proposed federal regulations will impact both the focus and the trajectory of AI activities in the years to come.


Artificial Intelligence has arrived, and its influence continues to grow. Gaining control over that growth will allow it to enhance the lives of all of humanity. The United States government is dedicated to embracing its control of AI because failing to master it for appropriate purposes poses potentially existential threats to the entire planet.




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