© The White House General | February 12, 2019
WH executive order outlines AI plan, omits critical funding details
President Trump has signed an executive order creating the “American AI Initiative,” which serves as a high-level strategy guiding AI development within the U.S.
The document, which describes the benefits of AI and AI research initiatives, makes the claim that “The Initiative focuses Federal Government resources toward developing AI technology and ensuring that the next great AI inventions are made in the United States.” However, according to media reports, top AI research scientists and economists are voicing concerns about the initiative’s failure to state any details on how the goals for AI development will be funded. Jason Furman, a Harvard professor and former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, who helped draft the previous administration’s report on AI, told Technology Review that the plan was headed in the right direction, but lacks any concrete commitments needed to fulfill its stated goals. Kate Crawford, co-director of the New York University research group AI Now, told Science Magazine that the executive order “correctly highlights AI as a major priority for US policymaking,” but lacks input from academics and civic leaders. Also excluded from the executive order are clear dates for reaching stated goals, instead promising the release of further details in the next six months. As reported by numerous media outlets, the Trump administration’s AI Initiative is split into several areas of focus: research and development, freeing resources, ethical standards, automation, and international outreach. As reported by The Verge, America’s ability to attract foreign talent has bolstered its leadership role in AI development. However, experts have warned that this trend may be changing due to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant stance and promises to restrict the freedoms of visa holders. The National Science Foundation’s most current data shows a 5.5% decline in overseas grad students in the U.S. between 2016 and 2017. To date, 18 countries have instituted national AI strategies, and at least half have included in their published plans sources of funding. The amounts being pledged in those plans range from USD 20 million in Australia and Denmark to almost USD 2 billion in South Korea.