White House Executive Order Promises New High-Level Strategy in Global AI Race

Is the "American AI Initiative" finally the start to a clear plan for AI R&D in the US?

On Monday, the White House signed an executive order directing federal agencies to focus existing funds, advance programs, and release data to support Artificial Intelligence (AI) research. AI continues to have profound effects on many areas such as national security and the economy. Developing a coordinated strategy between the government, private sector, and academia is imperative for the US to compete on a global scale.

Elias Kruger has written a four-part series on the global AI race for SuperPosition. In Part 1 of 4, he stated that “While the undisputed leader, having an advantage in patents, and having an established ecosystem for research development, the [US] lacks a clear plan from the government.” Previously, there have been few signs the current administration is willing to address the challenges of putting “America First” when it comes to AI. In May of 2018, the White House hosted the one-day Artificial Intelligence for American Industry summit. In September of 2018, the Defense Department committed to spending up to $2 billion over the next five years to put more AI into its weaponry.

The new executive order describes what the White House dubs the "American AI Initiative." It calls for increased access to government healthcare and transportation data that will help commercial AI projects and academia while also emphasizing the importance of protecting civil liberties. Additionally, the executive order directs agencies to help US workers adjust when their jobs change due to AI. It is still unclear how the US plans to encourage collaboration with other countries, the private sector, and academia. There are also no details on how the administration will address immigration and visas as it pertains to scientists.

In May of 2018, the White House said that “AI has tremendous potential to benefit the American people, and has already demonstrated immense value in enhancing our national security and growing our economy.” The executive order signed on Monday reiterates this truth, but without any new money for the public sector and lacking a concrete action plan at this time, it remains to be seen how the potential of AI will be realized during this administration. More details are expected to be forthcoming from the White House over the next six months.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What are some areas where the US government can promote the use of AI to create a better world?

Q2. What do you think are the most pressing concerns that the US needs to address involving AI as it pertains to civil rights?

Q3. How can the administration encourage the private sector to collaborate with academia and other countries in their research and development of AI initiatives?