Customer experience executive order should focus federal AI efforts

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The recently signed customer experience executive order will help agencies refocus efforts to deploy artificial intelligence across critical services, the director of federal AI implementations said Wednesday.

Within 120 days, the Office of Management and Budget must coordinate guidance on improving data sharing among agencies with interagency councils like the Chief Information Officers and Chief Data Officers councils.

Speaking Wednesday at an AFFIRM webinar, Anil Chaudhry said the order is expected to support the AI Center of Excellence at the General Services Administration with its work helping agencies to implement technologies such as bots and interactive voice response systems.

“That is really about focusing data and analytics efforts in a very structured way to make sure that the high-impact federal services are the ones being addressed first,” Chaudhry said, during and AFFIRM webinar. “And the second aspect of that is: How do we reduce the cognitive burden on the federal workforce?”

In a time of pandemic telework more than ever, robotic process automation (RPA), chatbots and machine learning (ML) are handling basic tasks like checking account balances and allowing federal employees to address more immediate service needs like hacked accounts, he added.

Chaudhry defines AI as any technology that takes the cognitive load off a human, and in the next five years he expects government will follow industry in prioritizing enabling technologies like 5G, edge computing, identity management and the requisite hardware.

Another aspect of improving customer experience with AI will be ensuring humans remain in the loop because the technology will continue to amplify disparities between people and the way they receive services, Chaudhry said. The AI CoE intends to address ethics, bias, transparency and accessibility issues around the technology early and often.

“If we see that disparities are being amplified, where’s that kill switch for that technology?” Chaudhry said. “Stop it until we can regroup, fix it and deploy it correctly.”

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AFFIRM, AI Center of Excellence, Anil Chaudry, artificial intelligence (AI), customer experience (CX)