President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that outlines the federal government’s priorities for handling artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
The order promises more tax dollars for AI research and development (R&D) and more access to federal data sets for AI testing. It also calls for establishing a regulatory framework and technical standards for AI and for protecting American AI from acquisition by competitors and adversaries. Further, it asks NASA, the Defense Department, and other agencies to dedicate more of their supercomputer resources to AI and asks federal agencies to promote education in the AI field.
“By driving technological breakthroughs in AI, breaking barriers to AI innovation, preparing our workforce for the jobs of the future, and protecting America’s advantage in AI we are ensuring that AI technologies continue to improve the lives of our people, create jobs, reflect our Nation’s values, and keep Americans safe at home and abroad,” the White House said in a Feb. 11 release.
“Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump said in the release.
Research and Development
Based on the order, federal agencies that conduct or fund R&D should prioritize AI R&D. That not only includes shifting the focus in 2019, but also encourages the agencies to prioritize AI work in their 2020 budget proposals. Agencies will also be required to track how much they spend on AI work. They should also partner with non-federal and private sector players, including “foreign partners and allies, so all collaborators can benefit from each other’s investment and expertise in AI R&D,” the order states.
Agencies should review their data and models to see where they can increase access to AI researchers and developers “while protecting safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality.” The agencies should also use feedback from the AI R&D community and the public to improve access “and quality of AI data and models.”
The order requires the secretaries of Defense, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Energy; NASA; and the director of the National Science Foundation to “prioritize the allocation of high-performance computing resources for AI-related applications.”
Regulations and Standards
The order tasks Mick Mulvaney—the director of the Office of Management and Budget who also serves as Trump’s acting chief of staff—to issue a memo on AI within 180 days to federal agencies.
The memo will “inform the development of regulatory and non‑regulatory approaches” to technologies and industries either empowered or enabled by AI “that advance American innovation while upholding civil liberties, privacy, and American values.”
The memo will also “consider ways to reduce barriers to the use of AI technologies in order to promote their innovative application while protecting civil liberties, privacy, American values, and United States economic and national security.”
The memo will be open to public comment.
Agencies involved in regulation will then have 180 days to get back to Mulvaney with plans on how to bring their regulatory regimes in line with the memo.
Meanwhile, Walter Copan, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will have 180 days to create a plan for developing “technical standards and related tools in support of reliable, robust, and trustworthy systems that use AI technologies.”
Education and Protection
The federal fellowship and service programs are required by the order to prioritize AI areas of study for education grants.
Trump also issued a national security memo on Feb. 11, that gives his national security adviser, John Bolton, 120 days to “organize the development of an action plan to protect the United States advantage in AI and AI technology critical to United States economic and national security interests against strategic competitors and adversarial nations.“
“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,” the order stated.