The AI Literacy Act – What Is It And Why Should You Care?


Right before the holidays, two US congressional representatives (Rep Lisa Blunt-Rochester – D-Del and Rep Larry Bruschon – R-Ind) introduced the AI Literacy Act – a step towards ensuring AI Literacy as a critical component of Digital Literacy for every American. You can find a summary of the bill here.

What is AI Literacy?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Literacy as “the quality or state of being literate” or having “knowledge or competence”. Artificial Intelligence is the umbrella term given to all technologies that enable computers to perform tasks that we normally think of as requiring “intelligence”, or as being done by human brains. Artificial Intelligence is now in every aspect of our lives, creating both massive opportunity and substantial risk. The sheer pervasiveness of the technology means that every human being is affected – thereby making “AI Literacy” a critical requirement for every person on the planet.

Does this mean we all get need to get Ph.Ds?

No. One of the challenges of AI for the average person is that many of the AI descriptions available are very technically deep, often jumping into equations, mathematical theory, or code. While these topics are certainly critical for those wanting to develop new AI technology or operate in a technical capacity, this level of AI depth is not required for the average individual who may wish to interact with AI, make responsible decisions regarding AI use, or apply AI tools in their lives and work.

What is AI Literacy then?

Two past articles provide some perspective into how I see AI Literacy. The first advocates that AI Literacy should be comprised of the 4 C’s – Concepts, Context, Capability and Creativity. In short – everyone should understand the fundamental concepts of how AI works (not at the mathematical or code level, but at the concept level), how AI works in our lives, ability to build AI if they choose or use pre-built AIs safely and responsibly, and finally the ability to imagine new solutions using these technological capabilities. The second article uses two analogies, cars and nuclear power, to illustrate the importance or AI literacy and show us how every human can acquire this literacy.

What is the AI Literacy Act?

The AI Literacy act advocates for amending the Digital Literacy Act to codify the importance of AI Literacy for everyone in the US. It further highlights the importance of AI Literacy for national competitiveness, highlights the importance of supporting AI literacy at every level of education, and requires annual reports to Congress on the state of this initiative.

What should you do?

Irrespective of who you are, becoming AI literate is a good thing. A great way to get started is to check out the articles above about AI Literacy, and how you can learn AI in a way that helps you in your life, work and business.

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