White House calls for collaboration with businesses and international allies in revised U.S. AI R&D strategy

The White House Office of Science and Technology today released updates to the National AI research and development strategy, a document meant to guide billions in funding to federal agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and U.S. military.

The 2016 AI R&D strategy was released in the final months of the Obama administration considers the impact of AI on society and how federal researchers and agencies should respond. Recommendations

Many of the goals stated in 2016 remain largely unchanged. The single item added to the strategy doc calls for a focus on public-private partnerships between academia and industry and work with “international allies.”

“These partnerships build upon joint engagements among federal agencies that enable synergies in areas where agencies’ missions intersect. The nation also benefits from relationships between federal agencies and international funders who can work together to address key challenges of mutual interest across a range of disciplines,” the revised report reads.

The revision also points to federal AI efforts underway now such as DARPA’s AI Next campaignDARPA’s AI Next campaign to funnel hundreds of millions into AI and the National Institutes of Health’s work to bring the biomedical and AI fields closer together.

In August 2018 the Trump administration directed its Select Committee on AI begin the process of revising the document. A request for public comment  garnered nearly 50 statements from AI community stakeholders.

As a 20-year AI research roadmap published by AI researchers this spring calls for, the revised strategy document demands continued research into understanding human intelligence.

“Emphasis is needed on the development of further ML capabilities to interactively and persistently learn, the connection between perception and attention, and the incorporation of learned models into comprehensive reasoning architectures,” the report reads.

The report also continues to support long-term government funding for the development of general artificial intelligence and points to efforts underway now to meet previously stated goals such as the National Institutes of Health’s work to bring the biomedical and AI fields closer together.

In the past year or so, the Trump administration faced criticism about a lack of a formal comprehensive AI strategy, giving some the impression the United States trails China and more than 30 other nations who have created their own national AI strategies.

Instead, the White House has done things like launch ai.gov to promote national AI initiatives and last month joined more than 40 democratic nations around the world to sign an agreed upon list of AI principles.

Around the time when the Department of Defense shared its AI strategy publicly for the first time, an executive order signed in February referred to as the American AI initiative to direct federal agencies to make AI R&D funding a priority.

Funding the Trump administration or specific agencies intend to invest in AI initiatives is a bit less clear. An effort to tally AI investments by federal agencies is underway now, an administration spokesperson said in a call with reporters.

In other corners of the government, the U.S. Department of Defense Innovation Board is currently considering accepting public comment on the ethical use of artificial intelligence by the military. As a result of the executive order, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is expected to deliver recommendations for engagement in development of technical standards for AI this summer.

Revisions to the report were carried out by the Select Committee on AI, the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Machine Learning and AI, and the AI R&D Interagency Working Group of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program (NITRD).

As the White House revises the national R&D strategy, members of Congress are considering a series of bills to regulate AI such as a national moratorium on facial recognition software use by policenational moratorium on facial recognition software use by police and a bill to fund a national AI strategyfund a national AI strategy initiative.

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