Digital Transformation: Exploring AI

Have you seen the administration’s 2020 Federal Data Strategy? It emphasizes the need for federal agencies to leverage our data as strategic assets. Action 8 of the plan specifically speaks to improving data in order to support artificial intelligence (AI) research in federal agencies. Good data is a critical building block for AI. As you would expect from the National Archives and Records Administration, we have focused on standards from the beginning of our existence.

Daytona Beach branch of the Volusia county vocational school.”, 4/1942. National Archives Identifier 535579

For the last two decades, we have been transforming our accumulated knowledge for the best use in the digital era. Recently, we hired our first Chief Data Officer, who will participate in the federal CDO working group, bringing ideas back from other agencies to NARA for consideration, and who will help us prioritize data projects that will support our AI research. 

Staff from across NARA are collaborating and learning together about the potential for AI to support the Agency’s mission. Members of NARA’s AI exploration team include archivists, project managers, IT specialists, outreach liaisons, records managers, and digitization specialists. This diverse body will bring a critical variety of viewpoints that we must consider as we investigate how we should harness the power of emerging technologies such as AI. 

Press and spectators gathering after United Nations Charter is signed, 6/26/1945. National Archives Identifier 100310939

To ensure a basic level of understanding across our diverse team, NARA is holding an “AI for Business” meeting, where our IT staff will provide presentations and demos that help to define and differentiate terms like artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and neural networks for those without an IT background. 

Interior of the 3M Co. (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) Plant Showing an Employee Working on one of the Products. National Archives Identifier 558372

Some of the questions we will ask as we continue to explore potential uses of AI, include: 

How can we use AI to better meet our customers’ needs?
What are our peer institutions doing with AI? 
What are the ethical implications that we need to consider? 
What additional training will staff need to prepare for using AI?  
Can AI enhance our crowdsourcing efforts?  And more…

Interior of the 3M Co. (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) Plant Showing an Employee Working with one of the Machines. National Archives Identifier 558375

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence hold extraordinary promise for improving our digital future. As we work to explore the possibilities of applied AI to support NARA’s mission, I will continue to post our progress. In the meantime, what are you doing with AI? 

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