The Justice Department gets a chief AI officer

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Justice Department appointed Princeton professor and technology law researcher Jonathan Mayer as its first chief AI officer as it figures out how AI impacts law enforcement.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that appointing an AI officer was important for the department to “keep pace with rapidly evolving scientific and technological developments.”

One of Mayer’s responsibilities will be to build a team of technical and policy experts around cybersecurity and AI. Mayer will also serve as the department’s chief science and technology advisor and help recruit tech talent.

Government agencies were tasked by the Biden administration’s executive order on AI to shore up AI talent and create guidelines on using the technology in their services. The executive order also includes establishing standards to ensure fairness if AI is used for sentencing, parole, and surveillance — actions that fall into the purview of the Justice Department.

Mayer held technology roles in government before his new Justice Department gig, according to his bio in Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He served as an adviser on technology law and policy to Vice President Kamala Harris when she was still in the Senate. Mayer was also the chief technologist in the enforcement office of the Federal Communications Commission.

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