Generative AI and large language models (LLMs) are poised to make their mark on the federal government in 2024. With the world marking ChatGPT’s first birthday on November 30, 2023, generative AI entered the public consciousness seemingly overnight and took the world by storm.
With the potential to empower federal agencies to increase efficiencies, improve stakeholder experiences, and better address their mission challenges, watch for the following three federal generative AI trends to unfold in 2024:
Generative AI will augment the human workforce
A White House executive order in October 2023 urged the federal government to unlock AI’s potential to “positively augment human work.”
What does that mean day-to-day? In short, federal workers will be empowered to do more with their existing resources for use cases that include:
- Enterprise content management: AI will help agencies manage their vast amounts of information, making needed data more readily available in support of successful mission outcomes.
- Stakeholder reporting: It’s something every agency needs to do, and AI will help summarize information, even creating first drafts to speed and simplify reporting.
- Generative coding: As agencies look to pare down their technical debt, they’ll turn to AI to support translating legacy code to more modern formats.
- Content creation: From first drafts of emails to illustrative imagery, AI will help communications teams create compelling and relevant content faster.
Generative AI will get guardrails
The aforementioned EO calls for “the creation of internal Artificial Intelligence Governance Boards, or other appropriate mechanisms.” In 2024, expect to see federal agencies heed that call and establish guardrails for the responsible use of AI.
These new “rules of the road” will forge policies and processes to implement generative AI technologies safely and sustainably. For example, enterprises need to ensure that private information stays private, that bias is not introduced or propagated, and that the risks are understood and mitigated.
The federal sector has done something similar before. Five years ago, the U.S. Evidence Act called for government to make data and statistical information more transparent and actionable. It required agencies to identify a chief data officer, evaluation officer, and statistical official — experts who could coordinate and oversee the use of data. Now, more than half of federal technology leaders appear to be on board, with 58% noting big data and analytics are among the most impactful emerging capabilities.
We’ll likely see a similar process unfold, with agencies identifying their generative AI champions as they look to scale implementation. They’ll take their cues from the extensive thought leadership that has already gone into informing the National Institute of Standards and Technology AI Risk Management Framework, released one year ago.
Generative AI will make chatbots smarter
Conversational chatbots are among the most widely applicable generative AI use cases. The commercial sector is already leaning heavily into this technology. Increasingly, end users are asking for what they need and expecting AI to understand, provide historical context, and seamlessly assist with their requests. Similarly, in the coming year, expect to see the federal government turn to LLMs to customize chatbots.
Mature AI technology blurs the line between a human and a bot. A chatbot with generative responses can reply to unanticipated questions, personalize replies to be more user-friendly, and prompt people to converse as if talking to a real person.
Look for this sort of evolution on the frontlines of federal agency customer support to occur first on an “internal” constituent basis within the agency workforce before it extends to “external” use cases serving U.S. citizens. Additionally, as LLMs are not yet ready to deliver legal guidance as required by government agencies, it may be prudent for federal agencies to have human managers responsible for oversight until generative AI technologies mature and enforceable regulations are in place.
As the world adapts to the monumental shift unleashed by ChatGPT’s 2023 arrival, in 2024, the federal government will make the promise of this technology real. Federal agencies will go beyond experimentation and scale their generative AI activities to begin to unlock the power of this transformative technology.
Dr. Jennifer Sample PhD is Chief AI Growth Officer with Accenture Federal Services.