For months, the White House has been talking up artificial intelligence as one of America’s most important tech frontiers. Now we’re starting to see some of the dollar signs behind the talk. In newly released budget documents, the Trump administration says it wants to split $850 million in civilian federal spending on AI research and development between the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Energy Department.
Google has requested a meeting with a top U.S. general as political tension rises over the internet giant’s artificial intelligence work in China. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that Google "indirectly benefits the Chinese military" and is planning to meet with the company over the matter. The Pentagon official cited a Google AI lab that opened in Beijing in 2017 as a cause of concern.
A PwC report estimates that by 2030, 70 percent of the profits generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will be shared between the U.S. and China. While the two countries compete to develop the most advanced AI applications, there are also many opportunities for cooperation to mitigate the technology’s potential risks.
To start with, the way some analysts--spanning government, industry, academia, journalism, think tanks--discuss an AI “arms race” makes it sound as if the development of these technologies is siloed within the United States and in China. But there are great interdependencies and interconnections between AI development in the two countries; artificial intelligence is not developed on isolated tracks.
The report urges the government to dictate specific funding commitments and resources to enable the innovation of AI systems. It calls for a study that demonstrates where the U.S. will get the most bang for its buck through research and development investments, and also encourages the administration to allocate AI funding to specific government agencies including the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation.
The initiative is a broad strategy “to sustain and enhance the scientific, technological, and economic leadership position of the United States in AI R&D and deployment.” But critics have complained it’s short on specific actions and lacks new funding to accomplish its goals, in contrast to China’s 2017 “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan,” which allocated billions to establish China as the “premier global AI innovation center” by 2030.
Low unemployment has made the current economy a “workers’ market.” Yet, as technology advances, roles in the workforce are shifting with it. As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) progress, they may impact workers currently employed in certain jobs. Some positions may be phased out, while other new professions may open.
The American AI Initiative is a welcome step towards boosting U.S. competitiveness in AI, but it does not go far enough. Without more substantial efforts from the Trump administration and Congress, the United States will struggle to compete with other countries that have developed aggressive national AI strategies, and the economy will be worse off for it.
We know that China, France and the U.K. have invested and committed billions already to their own AI initiatives. The American AI Initiative as it stands does little to blunt the fears that America will fall behind in its technological edge. In fact, its lack of particulars sends exactly the opposite message. If the government wants to demonstrate its support for AI, it needs to commit significant funding and investment in education to retain, attract and grow the talent necessary to support such a critical industry...
“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) may bring to mind any number of futuristic pop culture references, from “Star Wars” to “Westworld”, and it may seem like something that’s decades or even centuries away. The reality is that AI is already here - it’s in the apps we use to navigate through traffic, it protects us from spam emails and more nefarious online security threats, and it’s what responds when we say “OK Google...” and “Alexa?”