Trump administration unveils order to prioritize and promote AI

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We got some more details on the administration's thinking in a Wired op-ed written by Michael Kratsios, the White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Technology Policy.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday created to beef up how the USA approaches artificial intelligence.

However Trump claims that the initiative will make sure the United States keeps its research and development advantage in AI and related areas, such as advanced manufacturing and quantum computing.

The administrator's new push to boost machine learning development comes against the backdrop of an ongoing trade dispute with China, which likewise sees the technology as a major priority.

The directive will call for better coordination across government agencies, developing regulatory and ethics rules for the use of artificial intelligence, and require federal departments to track spending on research and development of AI.

The order creates what is called the American AI Initiative and appears designed to prepare the federal government for what many experts believe will be a global race around the technology over the coming decades.

Darrell West, director of the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation, said the White House move was "timely", but that it remained uncertain how it would be implemented without clear funding. In the next 90 days, a committee will offer recommendations to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on STEM education on AI-related educational and workforce development considerations, according to the order.

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Directs federal agencies to prioritize training programs for American workers to gain "AI-relevant skills".

This technology-promoting initiative calls for protecting the advantage of the United States in AI "against strategic competitors and foreign adversaries", but without specifying its competitors or adversaries.

Trump envisioned AI technology affecting almost every federal department and agency, creating new opportunities for efficiency while simultaneously raising concerns about privacy rights. However, America is hardly the first to have a national AI initiative.

While the U.S. remains home to the majority of AI research and talent, China is quickly catching up, with its government supporting a policy plan to become the world's AI superpower by 2030-similar to an Obama-era AI roadmap released in 2016. Eighteen other countries have beaten America to the punch in that regard.

Brynjolfsson said it's important for US policymakers to not only push the AI technology frontier, but also think hard about values and how the technology is implemented.

Despite Thursday's announcement lacking detail around funding, many feel the executive order will focus energy and attention on AI.

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