White House launches new AI effort

14 May, 2018, 00:27 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Tech giants such as Google Amazon Facebook and Microsoft as well as retailers banks drugmakers carmakers and food companies are participating at a White House event Thursday on artificial intelligence. Some tech leaders have pushed the administration

The White House also announced the formation of a new task force: The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence.

"As artificial intelligence transforms everything from agriculture to manufacturing to transportation, the potential for AI remains breathtaking", Michael Kratsios, deputy CTO at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in his remarks at the event.

President Donald Trump hasn't said much, if anything, about artificial intelligence, but his administration is warming up to the idea of investing more in the technology and finding ways to build new skills for the US workers it replaces.

The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, which will include senior government officials in research and development, will advise Trump on AI priorities across federal agencies and coordinate government research and planning.

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There is little doubt that USA tech companies and universities are already at the forefront in developing self-driving cars, robotics, smarter health diagnostics and other advances that rely on increasingly intelligent machines. It will be comprised of the most senior research and development officials across the USA government, tasked with looking at R&D priorities and better coordinating federal investments. Many of them had been concerned that Trump's focus on jobs and traditional industries in earlier months of his presidency might signal his hostility toward automation technologies. The development of AI is also fuelling concerns about bias in data use and whether the USA sector can stay ahead of fierce competition with China.

The creation of the new committee comes amid increasing competition from world governments to be seen as leaders in AI.

John Holdren, who was the top presidential science adviser during the Obama administration, warned that the Trump administration's late entry into outlining its approach to AI reflects broader concerns about its commitment to technological advancement.

The committee will be led by the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. "To realise the full potential of AI for the American people, it will require the combined efforts of industry, academia, and government", Kratsios said. "Meanwhile, the US disbanded its AI taskforce in 2016".

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Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, says it's been disappointing not to have more of a national movement around AI.

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"To a certain degree, job displacement is inevitable", he said, noting that the administration has taken steps such as STEM grant funding "to ease the transition for workers and aid industries hungry for talent".

Garfield said that as new technology displaces some job roles, "the government is well-situated to make sure that people are also deployed in the competencies and in the places those jobs will be".

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