Prez Trump orders Uncle Sam to step up AI efforts – we all know the White House knows a lot about artificial intelligence

Ah, wait, the other kind of artificial

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday kickstarting the American AI Initiative, a strategic plan to keep the nation ahead of its competitors in artificial intelligence.

“Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump said.

Last week, during his state of the union address, Trump stressed the importance of supporting the growth of emerging technologies, especially neural networks. America has long been at the forefront of AI since the term was coined in the 1950s, and it continues to dominate in research and resources in areas like self-driving cars and AI chips.

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“Americans have profited tremendously from being the early developers and international leaders in AI,” according to a statement from the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“However, as the pace of AI innovation increases around the world, we cannot sit idly by and presume that our leadership is guaranteed. We must ensure that advances in AI remain fueled by American ingenuity, reflect American values, and are applied for the benefit of the American people.”

The initiative is the first step taken by the US government to outline some sort of guidelines to help shape its ambitions in machine learning. America is a bit late to the game when it comes to government action, falling behind countries like China, Canada, and France who have pledged millions of dollars and jobs to foster research and innovation.

The American AI Initiative is based on five key areas, including:

  • Investing in AI Research and Development (R&D)
  • Federal agencies should prioritize in funding research that will “directly benefit the American people,” such as healthcare and education.
  • Unleashing AI Resources
  • The US government hopes to make it easier to share federal data to experts to develop models that drive “scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security”.
  • Setting AI Governance Standards
  • The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be in charge of determining the technical guidelines to establish “reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, portable, and interoperable AI systems.”
  • Building the AI Workforce
  • Employees will have to learn to adapt to the changing effects AI will have on certain industries, and training programs should be provided to help provide them with new skills.
  • International Engagement and Protecting our AI Advantage
  • The US needs to protect technology critical to its national and economic security from foreign adversaries *cough cough China*.

While these all sound very noble thoughts, it appears that it's all pie-in-the-sky at the moment. No funds have been allocated and this looks little more than a PR exercise at the moment, although NIST's involvement could prove useful.

Last week, a separate study, compiled by the United Nations, showed that the US was still the world leader in AI, though China was catching up quickly in terms of research and patents filed. Machine learning has often been described as an arms race with both countries competing to develop military applications using the technology. ®

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