Artificial Intelligence

On a soft grey background is a photo of a human brain with different patterns of lines drawn across each half of the brain; The right half shows neuron connections in a human brain (a natural neural network).  The left half shows a circuit board pattern, representing artificial neural networks.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the fastest-growing technologies globally and has the potential to enhance decision-making processes for the nuclear industry by providing insights into vast amounts of data generated during the design and operation of nuclear facilities. As a result, the nuclear industry has expressed a growing interest in researching and using AI technologies to improve operational performance and mitigate operational risk.

The NRC is committed to continue to keep pace with technological innovations to ensure the safe and secure use of AI in NRC-regulated activities.

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What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence is defined as a machine-based system that can go beyond defined results and scenarios and has the ability to emulate human-like perception, cognition, planning, learning, communication, or physical action. For a given set of human-defined objectives, AI can make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing real or virtual environments (adapted from the National Defense Authorization Act (2021)). 


What is the NRC’s AI Strategic Plan?

The NRC’s AI Strategic Plan, covering fiscal years (FY) 2023–2027, establishes the vision and goals for the NRC to cultivate an AI-proficient workforce, keep pace with AI technological innovations, and ensure the safe and secure use of AI in NRC-regulated activities. The AI Strategic Plan focuses on a broad spectrum of AI sub-specialties (e.g., natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning, etc.) which could encompass various algorithms and application examples which the NRC has not previously reviewed and evaluated.

The strategic plan includes five goals:

  • Ensure NRC readiness for regulatory decision-making.
  • Establish organizational framework to review AI applications.
  • Strengthen and expand AI partnerships.
  • Cultivate and AI proficient workforce.
  • Pursue use cases to build an AI foundation across the NRC.
The NRC’s AI Project Plan, Revision 0, describes how the agency will execute the five strategic goals from the AI Strategic Plan, such as the specific tasks, milestones, and projected completion dates for the project. The overall goal of the AI Strategic Plan is to ensure continued staff readiness to effectively and efficiently review and evaluate the use of AI in NRC-regulated activities. Any future guidance or rulemaking, if needed, will follow the agency’s typical processes. In part, the AI Strategic Plan’s success will depend on early and frequent official industry stakeholder engagement on envisioned AI applications and partnering with domestic and international counterparts to gain valuable information to benchmark the agency’s AI activities.

AI Strategic Plan Public Comment Analysis

The NRC issued a Federal Register notice (FRN) on July 5, 2022 (87 FR 39874) requesting comments on the draft AI Strategic Plan for FY 2023-2027. The public comment period closed on August 19, 2022 (see FRN). The NRC staff held a transcribed comment-gathering public meeting on August 3, 2022, to receive additional comments on the draft AI Strategic Plan. In addition to the comments received during the public meeting, the NRC received seven comment submissions in response to the FRN. In total, the NRC staff identified and responded to 105 individual comments received from individual members of the public and various organizations. The NRC responses to these comments are available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML23037A840


AI Public Workshops

The NRC hosted a series of Data Science and AI Regulatory Applications Public Workshops to provide a forum for the NRC, nuclear industry, and stakeholders to discuss the state of knowledge and research activities related to data science and AI and their application in the nuclear industry. At these workshops, the NRC worked with internal and external stakeholders to identify the benefits and risks associated with the use of AI in regulatory activities and discussed ongoing and planned projects in the nuclear industry. Based on feedback from these workshops, the nuclear industry could start deploying AI in nuclear applications in the near future.

The NRC plans to host additional workshops in FY 2024. For more details, please visit Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Regulatory Applications Workshops.

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