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Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices (2022)

Chapter:Appendix C: Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26507.
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Page101
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26507.
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Page102
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26507.
×
Page103
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26507.
×
Page104
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26507.
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Page105

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C Federal Computing Research Programs Related to Ethical and Societal Impact Concerns The National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development National Coordination Office (NITRD NCO) were asked to provide examples of federal computing research programs announced or continued in fiscal year 2021 that include a call for research aimed at identifying and confronting ethical and societal concerns related to the computing research being proposed and factors to be considered in addressing them including multidisciplinary research aimed at identifying ethical and societal concerns related to computing research. Programs apparently focused only on research ethics and integrity or regulatory compliance were removed from the lists the agencies provided. PROGRAMS IDENTIFIED BY THE NSF CISE DIRECTORATE Programs Led by CISE  Computer and Information Science and Engineering: Core Programs. Through its core programs, the NSF CISE Directorate supports research and education projects that develop new knowledge in all aspects of computing, communications, and information science and engineering, as well as advanced cyberinfrastructure. Issues of fairness, ethics, accountability, and transparency (FEAT) are important considerations for many core topics in computer and information science and engineering. In projects that generate artifacts ranging from analysis methods to algorithms to systems, or that perform studies involving human subjects, PIs are encouraged to consider the FEAT of the outputs or approaches. CISE is also interested in receiving proposals whose primary foci are on methods, techniques, tools, and evaluation practices as means to explore implications for FEAT. Among the CISE core programs, the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program supports research in human-computer interaction (HCI), taken broadly, including the assessment of benefits, effects, and risks of computing systems.  Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are engineered systems that are built from, and depend upon, the seamless integration of computation and physical components. The CPS program aims to develop the core research needed to engineer these complex cyber- physical systems, some of which may also require dependable, high-confidence, or provable behaviors. Core research areas of the program include human-in- or human-on-the loop, safety, security, and verification.  Designing Accountable Software Systems (DASS). The DASS program solicits foundational research aimed toward a deeper understanding and formalization of the bi-directional relationship PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 101

between software systems and the complex social and legal contexts within which software systems must be designed and operate.  Expeditions in Computing (Expeditions). The Expeditions program is designed to inspire the CISE research and education community to be as creative and imaginative as possible in the design of bold projects that explore new scientific frontiers. Projects must describe policies on intellectual property and ethics.  Formal Methods in the Field (FMitF). The FMitF program aims to bring together researchers in formal methods with researchers in other areas of computer and information science and engineering to jointly develop rigorous and reproducible methodologies for designing and implementing correct-by-construction systems and applications with provable guarantees. This includes verification techniques for machine-learning systems that could provide assurances of safety, correctness, and fairness.  National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes. The National AI Research Institutes program is a long-term multi-sector initiative to enhance innovation through foundational and use inspired research. Projects must include an ethics plan that provides a clear statement of the Institute's policies on ethics training, responsible conduct of research, and intellectual property rights.  NSF Program on Fairness in Artificial Intelligence in Collaboration with Amazon (FAI). The FAI program supports computational research focused on fairness in AI, with the goal of contributing to trustworthy AI systems that are readily accepted and deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society.  Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC). The SaTC program aims to protect and preserve the growing social and economic benefits of cyber systems while ensuring security and privacy.  Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC). The S&CC program accelerates the creation of the scientific and engineering foundations that will enable smart and connected communities to bring about new levels of economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, health and wellness, accessibility and inclusivity, and overall quality of life. The program encourages researchers to work with community stakeholders to identify and define challenges they are facing, enabling those challenges to motivate use-inspired research questions.  Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science (SCH). The SCH program supports research with the promise of disruptive transformations in biomedical research drawing from multiple domains of computer and information science, engineering, mathematical sciences, and the biomedical, social, behavioral, and economic science. Program themes include information infrastructure, maintaining sensitivity to legal, financial, cultural, and ethical issues; effective usability, taking into account ethical, behavioral, and social considerations; and unpacking health disparities. Programs Led by Other NSF Directorates  Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2). The ER2 program funds research projects that identify (1) factors that are effective in the formation of ethical STEM researchers and (2) approaches to developing those factors in all STEM fields that NSF supports.  Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier (FW-HTF). The FW-HTF program supports multi-disciplinary research to sustain economic competitiveness, to promote worker well-being, lifelong and pervasive learning, and quality of life, and to illuminate the emerging social and economic context and drivers of innovations that are shaping the future of jobs and work. Other NSF Activities PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 102

 Vulnerability Disclosure Policy. NSF welcomes the research and assessment of potential IT security vulnerabilities from independent researchers. The agency’s Vulnerability Disclosure Policy offers guidelines for conducting vulnerability discovery activities about NSF and conveys agency preferences in how to submit discovered vulnerabilities to NSF. PROGRAMS IDENTIFIED BY THE NITRD NCO Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology  NIST is developing a risk management framework to better manage risks to individuals, organizations, and society associated with artificial intelligence (AI). A July–September 2021 RFI and October 2021 workshop focused on trustworthy AI and on addressing technical and societal challenges and risks to AI.  NIST AI Fundamental Research—Free of Bias project aims “to understand, examine, and mitigate bias in AI systems.”  NIST Text Retrieval Conference includes a track on Fair Ranking, which evaluates systems according to how well they fairly rank documents. The project's goal is to find “appropriate ways to measure the amount of bias in data and search techniques.” Once determined, they will focus on identifying strategies for eliminating bias. Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  In section 7.2.3, “Existing DARPA Efforts to Manage ELSI Concerns,” the National Academies report Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security: A Framework for Addressing Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues1 discusses DARPA’s understanding of the “issues surrounding the ethical, legal, and societal framework” of research.  As reported by program manager Brian Kettler in DARPA’s Information Innovation Office, the Influence Campaign Awareness and Sensemaking (INCAS) program, which is designed for developing “techniques and tools that enable analysts to detect, characterize, and track geopolitical influence,” can help researchers recognize when political influence affects results.  DARPA’s FY 2022 budget request includes the Computers and Humans Exploring Software Security program, to “enable computers and humans to reason collaboratively over software artifacts … with the goal of finding vulnerabilities more rapidly and accurately than unaided human operators.” National Security Agency (NSA)  NSA’s Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency (CLPT) director advises NSA senior leadership on the protection of civil liberties and privacy. The CLPT director is the lead for “promoting and 1 National Research Council and National Academy of Engineering, 2014, Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security: A Framework for Addressing Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues, Washington, DC, The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/18512. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 103

integrating civil liberties and privacy protections into NSA policies, plans, procedures, technology, programs, and activities.” Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)  In a May 26, 2021, memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks lays out the DOD's AI Ethical Principles and establishes the implementation of Responsible AI (RAI) in the Department.  DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) has announced the Responsible AI Procurement “pilot of a procurement review process that will ensure AI acquired by the JAIC is aligned with DoD’s [sic] AI Ethics Principles,” as established by Hicks’s memo regarding responsible AI. Department of Energy (DOE)  In its Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program narrative, the DOE Office of Science (SC) stresses its commitment “to advancing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive research community.” To that end, SC discusses the ESnet, which has moved toward shrinking the gender gap in scientific research. SC also states that ASCR will be participating in the RENEW initiative, which provides training opportunities to students in under-served communities. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Institutes of Health (NIH) The NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science aims “to balance the need for maximizing opportunities to advance biomedical research with responsible strategies for sustaining public trust, participant safety, and data security” and “[i]mprove the education of students on NIH training grants by enriching content in Responsible Conduct of Research requirements with information about secure and ethical data use.” The AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center is designed to “increase the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of AI/ML models.” The Office of Data Science Strategy announced that the NIH is funding a new consortium to lead the AIM-AHEAD coordinating center, bringing “together experts in community engagement, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), health equity research, data science training, and data infrastructure.” The NIH issued an RFI on “current challenges and opportunities of using cloud computing at universities and colleges” to increase cloud computing access in “diverse biomedical research institutions.” The RFI asks for responses to topics such as “barriers to adopt cloud computing including, but not limited to, training and infrastructure gaps, technical barriers, social challenges, perceived risks, and costs.” It also requests information on “opportunities and potential impact on biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social science research from greater use of cloud computing.” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 104

 Ms. Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, science advisor to the Homeland Security Secretary, discusses the partnership DHS is forming with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute Center of Excellence, and industry innovators to provide retraining and reskilling in cyber security, as well as “drive new investments in diversity, social sciences, and research, development, and innovation, which are needed to build the next generation workforce.” Department of State  The Department of State Office of S&T Cooperation facilitates American science collaboration and lays its ground rules, providing “valuable access for American scientists to foreign scientific capabilities, facilities, and expertise while also exposing other countries to American science procedures, norms, and values.” PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 105

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With computing technologies increasingly woven into our society and infrastructure, it is vital for the computing research community to be able to address the ethical and societal challenges that can arise from the development of these technologies, from the erosion of personal privacy to the spread of false information.

Fostering Responsible Computing Research: Foundations and Practices presents best practices that funding agencies, academic organizations, and individual researchers can use to formulate and conduct computing research in a responsible manner. This report explores ethical issues in computing research as well as ways to promote responsible practices through education and training.

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