Trump to Sign Artificial Intelligence Order

Alfred Osborne
February 12, 2019

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Monday aimed at boosting US investment in, and development, of artificial intelligence capabilities.

The White House plan doesn't include any funding details.

The plan, called the American AI Initiative, is meant to enhance national and economic security and improve Americans' quality of life. While the order states that it hopes to "promote scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security", it provides little in the way of financial support for that endeavor.

Experts in the field of artificial intelligence have expressed growing concern that China is advancing plans for global AI dominance, and that the US needs to catch up.

"It is encouraging to see the White House take action on AI at a time when competition in these strategic technologies is clearly intensifying", Elsa Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told reporters before Trump officially signed the memo.

Establish standards: It will direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create standards that foster the development of "reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, portable, and interoperable AI systems".

First, the executive order will urge federal funding agencies to step up AI investments.

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The Hill noted that other United States agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were rushing to invest in AI that will "improve predictions of hurricanes and severe storms", according to an agency statement obtained by the publication. AI researchers will need to have computer models, computing resources, and federal data to kickstart projects.

Engage internationally: It will call for a strategy for worldwide collaboration that ensures AI is developed in a way that is consistent with American "values and interests".

It's well understood that this is directed at Beijing, which in July 2017 unveiled its plan to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030.

But so far, New Zealand is behind other countries in encouraging AI, and creating an ethical framework, Callaghan boss Victoria Crone says.

Though there's no specific budget behind the "American Artificial Intelligence Initiative", the president wants government agencies to invest in research, promotion, and training to help workers prepare for the era of AI.

The executive order gives the NSTC Select Committee 90 days to pass along recommendations to the NSTC for how to implement such a program.

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