This article is published in the March 2019 issue.

White House Order Prioritizes U.S. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research

Today President Trump signed an executive order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence calling on Federal agencies to prioritize investments in research and dedicating Federal resources to boost U.S. artificial intelligence (AI). In an accompanying fact sheet, the White House explained the goal of the order:

Americans have profited tremendously from being the early developers and international leaders in AI. 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 order includes five “principles” that will guide the Federal strategy, called the “American AI Initiative”:

  1. The United States must drive technological breakthroughs in AI across the Federal Government, industry, and academia in order to promote scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security.
  2. The United States must drive the development of appropriate technical standards and reduce barriers to the safe testing and deployment of AI in order to enable the creation of new AI-related industries and the adoption of AI by today’s industries.
  3. The United States must train current and future generations of American workers with the skills to develop and apply AI technologies to prepare them for today’s economy and jobs of the future.
  4. The United States must foster public trust and confidence in AI technologies and protect civil liberties, privacy, and American values in their application in order to fully realize the potential of AI technologies for the American people.
  5. The United States must promote an international environment that supports AI research and innovation and opens markets for American AI industries, while protecting our technological advantage in AI and protecting our critical AI technologies from acquisition by strategic competitors and adversarial nations.

To achieve these goals, the order directs federal agencies to prioritize funding AI initiatives and open up their data and computing resources to AI experts. It has five key areas of emphasis:

  1. Investing in AI Research and Development: Federal agencies are asked to “prioritize AI investments in their R&D missions.”
  2. Unleashing AI Resources: Agencies will grant researchers access to Federal data, models, algorithms, and computer processing to “foster public trust and increase the value of these resources to AI R&D experts.”
  3. Setting AI Governance Standards: There is currently a lack of an official set of standards regulating the development of these sensitive technologies. This initiative calls for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) “to lead the development of appropriate technical standards for reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, and portable AI systems.”
  4. Building AI Workforce: The AI Initiative calls for Federal agencies to create on the job training programs to develop workers abilities to utilize AI systems and to retrain those displaced by automation. This includes “education in computer science and other growing STEM fields.”
  5. International Engagement and Protecting our AI Advantage: The US will work to promote an international environment that supports AI R&D but that also “protects the advantage of the United States in AI and technology critical to United States national and economic security interest against strategic competitors and foreign adversaries.”
As you may know, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) has just finished a series of three AI workshops and an AI Townhall at AAAI 2019 that will be used to write a 20-year Roadmap for AI Research. The Executive Summary called A 20-Year Community Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence Research in the US has been released. The full report is due out for public comment by the end of March 2019. Please stay tuned to the CCC blog for the release of the draft and an opportunity to provide comment. Also, see the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Statement on the executive order to maintain American leadership in artificial intelligence.
White House Order Prioritizes U.S. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research