White House to Create Artificial Intelligence Task Force

Larry Hoffman
May 12, 2018

Made up of the "most senior R&D officials" from across the federal government, it aims to "improve the coordination of Federal efforts related to AI to ensure continued US leadership in this field".

The administration has some vacancies in its science and technology staff who could be involved in the committee. The development of AI is also fuelling concerns about bias in data use and whether the United States sector can stay ahead of fierce competition with China.

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.

The administration also prioritized AI research investments in its fiscal 2019 federal research and development budget. But Trump's lack of public emphasis on both the economic promise and potential dangers of automation has contrasted with other world leaders who have made a vocal push to get their countries ahead.

The select committee will work toward its mission of enabling USA leadership in the development of AI in a number of ways, including by helping to define interagency AI research and development goals, coordinate agency R&D plans and encourage further agency initiatives (including in partnership with industry and academia). The office, under the Obama administration, had more than twice the total. Nevertheless, the USA with its unique strengths in AI in both industry and academia should be able to maintain its leadership role, especially with a close coordination between industry and government initiatives.

According to The Washington Post, The Artificial Intelligence for American Industry event will see government officials, academics, and developers come together to discuss how AI can advance infrastructure and industry, including manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, and transportation, and how government policy can help facilitate this.

Dean Garfield, president and chief executive of the Information Technology Industry Council, called the event "an important step to building collaboration between government and industry". Other issues that have raised concerns range from the use of AI in policing controversial content online and making financial decisions.

A year ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brushed aside concerns about AI displacing jobs, saying that prospect was so far in the future that "it's not even on my radar screen".

"Privacy, cybersecurity, ethics, and potential employment impact are all worthy of careful analysis", Krzanich said. It will also look for federal government partnership opportunities with companies and academia and open up government data and resources to spur AI development.

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