America is currently the world leader in artificial intelligence, but its place is far from secure. While nations around the world have started programs to boost AI development, the Trump administration has virtually ignored the issue. That will change later, when President Tump is expected to sign an executive executive committee to create the "American AI Initiative" – a high level strategy for AI development in the US.
The initiative will divert federal funding and resources to AI research, and call for the creation of US-led international standards for AI and new research to retrain American workers. However, the program does not include new funds for AI development and is not enough detail. The administration does not set timelines to achieve its declared goals and instead promises a more detailed plan over the next six months.
According to various outlets, the objectives of the AI Initiative are divided into five key areas:
- Research and Development. Federal agencies are encouraged to prioritize 'AI investment' in their research and development budgets and report on how this money will be spent to provide a more comprehensive overview of government investment in artificial intelligence.
- Sharing Resources . Federal data, algorithms and computing power are provided to the researchers, which is a boost in areas such as transportation and health.
- Ethical Standards . Government agencies such as the White House Science and Technology Bureau and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are called upon to set standards that will guide the development of "reliable, reliable, reliable, secure, portable and interoperable AI systems" ,
- International outreach. The government wants to work with other countries to develop AI, but in a way that maintains American values and interests.
The initiative underpinning the current initiative addresses a number of key concerns in AI development. But the lack of new funding will worry some. So far, 18 countries have introduced national AI strategies, and half of them have new sources of funding. The numbers range from around 20 million US dollars in Australia and Denmark to almost 2 billion US dollars in South Korea.
The new program can not address the problem of immigration. America's leadership in the AI is partly due to its ability to attract foreign talent, but experts warn that researchers are increasingly deterred by the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration and its promise to restrict visa-free travel. According to statistics from the National Science Foundation, the number of overseas students in the US fell by 5.5 percent between 2016 and 2017.
Kate Crawford, co-director of AI Now's research group at New York University, told Science Magazine that the executive's order "correctly highlights AI as a top priority for US policy-making," but it lack of input from scientists and heads of state. This is particularly worrisome given the potential of AI technologies, such as facial recognition, that can affect privacy and civil liberties. Recently, technology companies like Microsoft have called for a federal regulation on facial recognition, but the AI initiative has no indication of these concerns.
Jason Furman, a Harvard professor who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to President Obama and helped draft the previous government's report on AI, said Technology Review that the plan was a step in the right direction. But it would need concrete commitments – not just promises – to achieve its declared goals.
"The United States' AI AI Initiative contains all the right elements, and the critical test will be to see if they are vigorous," Furman said. "The plan is endeavored without details and is not self-executive."