On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed the American AI Initiative, an executive order meant to foster artificial intelligence (AI) research, regulations, and job training for workers who may be displaced by the technology.
“The United States is the world leader in AI research and development (R&D) and deployment,” the order stated. “Maintaining American leadership in AI requires a concerted effort to promote advancements in technology and innovation, while protecting American technology, economic and national security, civil liberties, privacy, and American values and enhancing international and industry collaboration with foreign partners and allies.”
SEE: IT leader’s guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)
While the US remains home to the majority of AI research and talent, China is quickly catching up, with its government supporting a policy plan to become the world’s AI superpower by 2030—similar to an Obama-era AI roadmap released in 2016. China now produces more research papers on deep learning per year than any other nation, according to the MIT Technology Review, and overtaking US companies in terms of AI startup funding as well.
This executive order marks Trump’s first major move in the AI space, which is poised to transform the US economy and workforce, with automation predicted to displace 36 million US jobs by 2030.
Business considerations for the American AI Initiative
Here are three key areas included in the American AI Initiative that businesses need to know about:
1. Worker training
The order calls for agencies that provide educational grants to prioritize AI within those existing programs, in an effort to equip current and future generations of American workers with the proper skills to develop and apply AI technologies.
Eligible programs for prioritization are ordered to give preference to American citizens pursuing high school, undergraduate, graduate, and alternative education programs, as well as training programs. It also calls for programs to recognize and fund early-career university faculty who conduct AI R&D. In the next 90 days, a committee will offer recommendations to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on STEM education on AI-related educational and workforce development considerations, according to the order.
Industry leaders and researchers have long called for increased training to both fill AI-related skills gaps, and offer workers with a high likelihood of losing their jobs to automation with another option for employment. With increased training opportunities, this could help businesses fill tech positions and reskill current workers.
2. Government agencies partnering with the private sector
The order calls upon heads of government AI R&D agencies to explore opportunities for collaboration with non-federal organizations, including those in the private sector, academia, and non-profit realms. The goal is for all involved to benefit from each other’s investment and expertise in the field, according to the order.
Within the next 180 days, the Secretary of Commerce will issue a plan for the development of technical standards for AI systems, and will be consulting with private sector companies as needed, the order said.
Other reports have also called for cooperation between federal and private sector agencies to mitigate the impact of AI on jobs. It remains to be seen what those partnerships will look like in practice, but they could be beneficial for the development and regulation of the technology.
3. Lack of funding for AI plans
The order calls for heads of implementing federal agencies that perform or fund AI R&D to prioritize this research when developing budget proposals for FY 2020 on. However, it does not provide new funding to support these measures, or many details on how the plans will be implemented.
The lack of funding for training initiatives is particularly concerning considering AI’s impending impact on the job market, US Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement to our sister site CNET. “The administration’s executive order treats the impact of AI on the American workforce almost as an afterthought—relegating consideration of upskilling and retraining to existing federal programs,” he wrote.
To learn more about other key AI-related discussions that Trump must have with tech leaders, check out this TechRepublic article.
Image: The White House