Trump to sign off ‘American AI Initiative’

The multifaceted programme lacks wider detail but agencies are being instructed to direct R&D focus on AI

AI brain

Donald Trump will sign an executive order today to launch a federal programme that entails governmental bodies and agencies focusing on developing and applying artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The 'American AI Initiative' comprises five facets including research and development (R&D), infrastructure, governance, workforce, and international engagement, and signals the first significant effort by the Trump administration to present a coherent national strategy.

But there are not yet many details surrounding the programme beyond federal agencies being assigned specific timelines for delivery, according to various outlets including Science, with more information expected within the next six months.

"AI is something that touches every aspect of people's lives," a senior administration official said on a conference call according to Reuters.

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"What this initiative attempts to do is to bring all those together under one umbrella and show the promise of this technology for the American people."

While there was no specific funding announced for this initiative, they added, the programme would call for better reporting and tracking of funds specifically allocated to AI research and development in future.

Congress would ultimately decide on how much spending would be committed to such research, but agencies will be directed to prioritise AI. Agencies are also expected to make it easier for researchers to access their data, algorithms, models and computer processing.

The White House's AI advisory committee and its council on job training, meanwhile, will seek to improve education among the workforce and create opportunities for students to take up computer science courses.

While the US still leads the pack in terms of AI research, a surge in Chinese research has seen its international rival close the gap significantly, the latest AI Index report revealed in December.

Europe still dominates in terms of authored papers, with 28% of all authored AI papers originating in European nations, but a 150% increase in published papers between 2007 and 2017 has seen China climb to 25%. Its count was also marginally above the number of papers the US published in 2018.

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Meanwhile, although the UK remains a leading nation on AI research, the government was criticised last year for making a "massive strategic error" that risks placing the country well behind its Western counterparts.

Several industry leaders in February warned the lack of systematic funding into AI and robotics are not adequately preparing the UK for an industry of the future in which AI and robotics takes centre stage.

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