IRS Wants AI-Based Simulation to Test Software Before Deployment

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is seeking artificial intelligence (AI) to develop an interactive, realistic simulation prototype – its own version of the video game The Sims – that generates synthetic data to test the agency’s IT systems.

Pilot IRS, the agency’s innovation branch, explained in an April 9 request for information (RFI) that it aims to acquire “an interactive prototype that simulates real- life events (similar to those that drive popular video games like ‘The Sims’) when its populated with statistical data about United States (US) household incomes and family sizes to create, track and generate output triggers for tax-related events.”

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At IRS, programmers are required to test new and updated IT systems before deployment. The testing requires meaningful data, but Federal tax information is highly sensitive and thus risky to use. An IRS-specific version of The Sims would enable developers to “generate, manage, and control” synthetic tax information.

Through the RFI, IRS hopes to gain a report detailing the use of AI-based (and non-AI) data modeling and tools used by industry and government to simulate individual and household activities. The agency is also seeking a rough estimate of the return on investment of implementing a simulation program.

Responses to the RFI are due by April 23.