US AI Safety Institute Welcomes Elizabeth Kelly as Its First Director, Elham Tabassi as CTO

The institute was announced by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris at the UK AI Safety Summit last year.
Elizabeth Kelly (L) and Elham Tabassi
Elizabeth Kelly (L) and Elham Tabassi

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced Elizabeth Kelly will serve as the inaugural Director and Elham Tabassi Chief Technology Officer of the AI Safety Institute (AISI).

“I’m proud to announce that Elizabeth Kelly will lead the AI Safety Institute. I’m also thrilled that Elham Tabassi will expand her work at NIST and play a central role on our executive leadership team,” Secretary Raimondo continued, “Together, they will provide the direction and expertise we need to mitigate the risks that come with the development of this generation-defining technology, so that we can harness its potential.”

As AISI Director, Kelly will be responsible for providing executive leadership, management, and oversight of the AI Safety Institute and coordinating with other AI policy and technical initiatives throughout the Department, NIST, and across the government. She serves as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House National Economic Council, where she helps lead the Administration's efforts on financial regulation and technology policy, including artificial intelligence.

Kelly was a driving force behind the domestic components of the AI executive order. She holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, and a B.A. from Duke University.

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Elizabeth Kelly (L) and Elham Tabassi

As CTO, Tabassi will be responsible for leading key technical programs of the institute, focused on supporting the development and deployment of AI that is safe, secure and trustworthy. She will be responsible for shaping efforts at NIST and with the broader AI community to conduct research, develop guidance, and conduct evaluations of AI models including advanced large language models in order to identify and mitigate AI safety risks.

Tabassi is a Senior Research Scientist and most recently served as the Associate Director for Emerging Technologies in NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory (ITL). In that role, she helped guide strategic direction for research, development, standards, testing and evaluation in the areas of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

At President Biden's directive, the AISI was formed under the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to aid the Department of Commerce in fulfilling its obligations outlined in the President's significant Executive Order.

The institute was announced by US Vice President Kamala Harris at the UK AI Safety Summit last year. The institute will create and release guidelines, benchmark tests, best practices, and additional resources for testing and assessing potentially risky AI systems.

Moreover, it will offer technical advice to lawmakers and law enforcement on various AI matters, such as identifying generated content, authenticating live-recorded content, addressing AI-driven discrimination, and promoting transparency in AI usage.

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