American AI Initiative — to keep America First in AI

2019-02-11 17:19:28

The U.S leads the world in AI emerging technology. After years of federal research funding, industrial and academic research, and streams of foreign talent have put the tech-giant country at the forefront of the current AI boom.


Since having the foundation, the US government has lacked a high-level strategy to guide American investment and prepare for the technology’s effects. While artificial intelligence may have been developed in the United States, but China, Canada, and France have made bigger moves to integrate AI into various industries.


To address this issue, President Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order creating a program called the American AI Initiative. The new initiative doesn’t include new funding or specific AI projects. But it orders the federal government to direct and regulate existing funds, programs, and data in support of AI research and commercialization.


The key focuses of the “American AI Initiative” have been released ahead of time by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It is designed to boost America's AI industry by reallocating funding, creating new resources, and devising ways for the country to shape the technology even as it becomes increasingly global.


The AI plan aims to achieve five key things:

Allocate funding: The order will direct federal funding agencies to prioritize investments against AI.


Create resources: The initiative will seek to make federal data, computer models, and computing resources available to AI researchers across the country.


Establish and maintain standards: It will direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) creating standards that foster the development of “reliable, trustworthy, robust, portable, secure, and interoperable AI systems.”


Upgrade skills: It will ask agencies to up-skill workers about AI through apprenticeships, skills programs, and fellowships.


Engage internationally: It will create a strategy for international integration that ensures AI is developed in a way that is consistent with American "values and interests."


Each plan could potentially help boost American AI tech and make the US more competitive over its competitors — depending on how the plan is executed.


Trump addressed in brief "Industries of the Future" in last week's State of the Union address, which indicated that the President is preparing a series of executive orders designed to boost US competitiveness in key technology areas including AI, 5G, and quantum computing.


Jason Furman, a professor at Harvard who served as chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, and helped craft administrations influential 2016 report on AI, says the new AI plan is encouraging but only to a certain extent.  "The Administration’s American AI Initiative includes all of the right elements, the critical test will be to see if the plan follows through in a vital manner," he says. "The plan is aspirational with no details and is not self-implementing."

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