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  4. Your Country Needs You: Why I Returned to DHS, and Why You Should Too

Your Country Needs You: Why I Returned to DHS, and Why You Should Too

Release Date: May 8, 2024

A post from Michael Boyce, Director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Artificial Intelligence Corps (AI Corps). The DHS AI Corps, announced by the Secretary on February 6, 2024, is a ground-breaking initiative to bring 50 AI experts to DHS to work at the forefront of innovative and responsible use of AI. These experts will drive the improvement delivery of services to the public in support of the homeland security mission, while safeguarding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Last month, I took the oath of federal office at the Department of Homeland Security’s Headquarters as Director of the newly formed DHS AI Corps. As Secretary Mayorkas has said, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the most consequential technology of our time and will reshape how we perform this critical mission. It is with this gravity that I am proud to join the Department that is leading the way, embracing the responsibility to ensure that AI is developed and adopted in a way that seizes its opportunities, while simultaneously upholding our nation’s values and safeguarding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. 

Just days earlier, I finished a year-and-half stint at the White House as a senior policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget. My work spanned a range of issues, from determining foreign assistance levels for key countries in the Americas, to cloud cybersecurity, and, critically, leading important initiatives related to federal Artificial Intelligence policy. That included writing the section on federal use of generative AI in the recent Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.

During my time in my previous role and throughout my career, I have often reminded my colleagues that policies are just words on paper until someone carries them out and once implemented these policies can have the power to drive innovation and deliver benefits to the American people. That is why I am so honored to lead the largest civilian AI team in the federal government, created in response to the President’s call for a national AI talent surge in that very Executive Order that I worked on. 

At DHS, I'm thrilled that we are taking a "digital service" approach modeled after the U.S. Digital Service, 18F, Defense Digital Service, DHS’ own original Digital Service team (where I also worked), and numerous other teams throughout the government. The AI Corps will work in cross-functional teams – data, product, engineering, design, and more – to deliver improved services to the public and further the Department’s homeland security mission. AI Corps experts will also be at the forefront of thinking about how these technologies impact privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties not purely at the abstract level of policy, but as real-world use cases. 

We are exceptionally excited about this team. In now only my third week on the job, I have had the chance to meet the first members of the AI Corps who have already accepted positions, after being selected from over 5000 applications. Some come from major Silicon Valley firms, some began their own startups or had academic backgrounds, and others come with significant experience working in the federal government. I’m excited to introduce these talented individuals in the coming weeks.

These experts will perform work that is critically needed. As the Secretary notes, “DHS is at the forefront of employing AI and machine learning technologies and leads by example. With our talented and dedicated team of 260,000 personnel in 22 agencies and offices across the country and around the world, Americans interact daily with DHS more than with any other federal entity. Our use of AI not only delivers real-time benefits to the public, but also fuels our strategic efforts across all areas of homeland security." The Secretary also believes that while AI can have the power to deliver tremendous benefits, we must work to mitigate potential harms. The AI Corps will commit to ensuring that those risks are considered and addressed in every project we take on.

Finally, as Director of the AI Corps, I’m determined to work with our new hires to build AI that empowers our workforce and enable us to better serve our nation. I started my career far from AI as a Refugee Officer at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component within DHS. In that role, I travelled all over the world for three years, working with refugees who were seeking protection and resettlement in the United States. I traveled to camps in Northern Kenya and Western Tanzania, facilities in Jordan and Malaysia, and urban processing sites in Istanbul and Beirut. In those locations, I met people from all walks of life and saw firsthand how the DHS mission affects some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It was an immediate and profound introduction to the importance of the Department’s mission. Reflecting back on that time, I can think of numerous ways that AI technology, if deployed responsibly and with human-centered practices, could make the refugee programs more efficient and lead to more consistent outcomes, while protecting homeland security and our applicants’ rights and privacy.

If you believe as I do that for such critical missions, we need to seize the opportunity of AI while ensuring it upholds the values that we believe in as a nation – then you should consider joining the AI Corps. I can't imagine a more impactful opportunity. You can learn more and apply with the links below.

Learn more about the AI Corps: Leading AI at DHS | Homeland Security 

Apply Now: USAJOBS - Job Announcement 

Look at other incredible Federal AI opportunities on AI.gov.

Last Updated: 05/08/2024
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