1. Introduction

This roadmap articulates the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) research advances to significantly improve our world and benefit our lives. It is the result of a community activity to formulate AI research priorities for the next 20 years, and make recommendations in support of their pursuit. This research agenda is motivated by a broad range of societal drivers aiming to improve health, education, science, innovation, justice, and security. The recommendations are supported by major findings resulting from the community discussions.

The rest of this chapter provides a brief background on AI, and an overview of the community activities that led to this roadmap document. Chapter 2 (page 12) gives an overview of major societal drivers, emphasizing the potential value of AI innovation in different sectors. Chapter 3 (page 16) details the outcomes of the three community workshops held on the core technical areas of the AI Research Roadmap, including specific vignettes that describe AI systems for those societal drivers, and articulates the research required that spans a wide range of areas of AI. The major findings and recommendations that resulted from reflecting on those efforts are detailed in Chapter 4 (page 89) and Chapter 5 (page 93).

1.1 Reference Documents

We refer to the following documents for additional information about AI and its current context:

  • The state of the art in AI: The “One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence”1 provides a thorough review of the state of the art in AI research and applications, with contributions from researchers across all areas of AI and related fields. The report reviews the state of the art in a diversity of areas of AI research and their relevance to a range of applications with societal benefits of AI. The report provides citations and references to the published literature. This roadmap document builds on and extends this study by providing a more in-depth motivation and description of areas for future research.
  • US government programs and priorities in AI: The “National Artificial Intelligence R&D Strategic Plan” 2 was developed by the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) through its Task Force on Artificial Intelligence. The report reviews existing programs that fund AI research, identifies strategic priorities, and makes recommendations to guide federally-funded AI research. This roadmap document is consistent with the strategies proposed in the NITRD plan, and extends it with more specific recommendations and more elaborate descriptions of research priorities.
  • Related research roadmaps: “A Roadmap for US Robotics”3 gives a thorough treatment of research priorities and applications in diverse areas of robotics and cyberphysical systems. This document is consistent with that report, and gives more extensive details on the cognitive capabilities needed in intelligent robots as well as expanding on many aspects of AI systems that inhabit the digital rather than the physical realm.

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