Trump calls for investment in artificial intelligence

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President Trump plans to sign an executive order that focuses on promoting artificial intelligence - but unlike his most famous science-based initiative, which called for an unrealistic "Space Force", this one is being slammed by critics for insufficient boldness.

"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 global and industry collaboration with foreign partners and allies".

The statement made no mention of China, but called for "an action plan to protect the advantage of the U.S. in AI and technology critical to United States national and economic security interests against strategic competitors and foreign adversaries". "Strengthening investments in the United States workforce will ensure that our country is prepared for an economy that will be transformed by new technologies", he said.

Commenting on the White House's announcement of the executive order, Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer at cybersecurity technologies provider CrowdStrike, said in a statement, "Today, AI is at the center of most major technological advances in areas as varied as cybersecurity, self-driving cars or development of cancer treatments".

Based on the order, federal agencies that conduct or fund R&D should prioritize AI R&D.

The initiative will feature a "multi-pronged approach" that emphasizes "research and development, AI infrastructure, AI governance, workforce and worldwide engagement", according to CNN.

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The initiative calls on federal agencies to help workers gain relevant skills through fellowships, apprenticeships, training programs and computer science education.

"The United States must foster public trust and confidence in AI technologies and protect civil liberties, privacy, and American values in their application in order to fully realize the potential of AI technologies for the American people", the executive order stated.

The initiative is the first step taken by the U.S. government to outline some sort of guidelines to help shape its ambitions in machine learning.

President Trump's initiative is welcome news to AI experts, although MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson and Kate Crawford of New York University's AI Now Institute told U.S. News and World Report they would like to see more specifics about funding and spending for federal AI projects.

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. To reduce reliance on semiconductor importing and feed the demand created by its AI software companies, China is investing $47 billion in semiconductor production to meet the country's future goals. Instead, it will announce a more detailed plan later this year.

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