Trumps orders government to prioritize artificial intelligence

Noel Cummings
February 14, 2019

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that launches the American AI Initiative under supervision of the National Science and Technology Council Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (NSTC Select Committee).

Michael Kratsios, a White House science adviser, said in an essay in Wired magazine on Monday that "with proper leadership, AI can empower American workers by liberating them from mundane tasks". However, since the order signed by president Trump does not mention the funds to be allocated to the American AI Initiative, it is not yet clear how it will be implemented. However, while the goals are lofty, the details are vague.

Government Resources: The initiative will give AI researchers access to federal data and resources such as machine learning algorithms and models to boost development and help researchers train advanced deep learning models and neural networks.

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The order cites the "paramount importance [of] maintaining the economic and national security of the United States and [of] shaping the global evolution of AI in a manner consistent with our Nation's values, policies, and priorities".

This initiative, which will elevate federal funding for AI research and support US -led AI worldwide standards, doesn't contain new AI development funding or additional details on next steps, The Verge reported.

Funding: The government will direct federal agencies to "prioritize investments" in AI research and development, but there are no specifics yet regarding how much funding will be requested and who gets it.

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Information is scarce about the American AI Initiative, as it's called, with the administration pledging to release details over the next six months. The order encourages federal agencies to prepare the workforce with the skills needed to adapt to and embrace AI technologies.

Standardization: Creating standards is an oft-discussed topic in AI, but internet standards bodies like the ISO and IEEE have only begun developing technical standards in the past few years. The plan, called the American AI Initiative, comes after China and other countries have pledged big investments to advance and apply AI technology in fields ranging from warfighting to health care.

Another focus of the order is putting the a better position to deal with the rapid spread of AI software and devices. It bases these conclusions on the amount of patents each country has, among other things, and IBM is the biggest company with nearly 9,000 patents. In 2017, Beijing unveiled plans to establish a $150 billion domestic AI industry by 2030.

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The announcement was a little unusual as AI is supposed to be the technology which will take away large numbers of factory jobs and is the very thing that Trump's own supporters fear the most, other than racial minorities and people with different sexual preferences.

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